Monday morning at 3am I got up and headed to SF for the 1906 quake remembrance.
It was the 100th anniversary of the quake.
It was also bittersweet being the 1st one since the last of the survivors had died a few months ago.
Bill had worked until he was 105
We gathered at Lottas Fountain on Market, Willie Brown talked far too long.
Then we were off to 22nd & Church to paint the fire hydrant.
Rather than head off to Leftie ODouls for breakfast & Bloody Marys, I went on to work in my whole disaster
gear (jumpsuit, boots, webbing, radios etc)
I did change after the morning meeting.
As time progresses, my suspicion that I am undiagnosed bi-polar increases.
As I write this Im in a particularly deep cycle.
Im trying to understand it.
It hit HARD on Tuesday with no warning during the drive into work.
As far as I can tell, it seems to have been triggered by a piece of music,
Carlos Santana's "I Love You Too Much".
It was recorded during an interview at a practice session where it starts with Bill Graham singing
and then Carlos Taking over.
There I was coming down the Dublin grade eastbound on 580 in full tears.
Arriving in the parking lot, it took a while to compose myself for the day of work.
I havent figured out what all happened yet.
In my early years, I showed an innate understanding of machines which people perceived as superior intellect.
This, of course, masked my social difficulties which border on the Autism Spectrum.
I am brighter than average, but Id stop short of considering myself the "genius" that some people think I am.
Nobody knew it back in HS, but I might as well have been one of the Columbine Kids.
Its been said that you cant do a psych profile of a teenager because most of them profile as sociopaths.
What broke me out of that was a combination of getting dragged into college theatre and the meeting of a
computer field service engineer who looked after the large mainframes at UC Berkeley and at Lawrence Lab.
I developed a coping tactic that MOSTLY keeps me functional.
I maintain in my head, the biggest "Tech Manual of People" you could imagine.
Because no 2 people are alike (AKA Built from different sets of blueprints)
I have to devote a separate chapter to every person I have ever met.
This also means that I have to "reverse engineer" every person I meet.
Being that I have to actively study people, seeking social cues and the in depth study that i do on each person probably creeps them out just a bit.
This reverse engineering of people and constant revision continues for years after I meet someone.
I view human interaction through a machine model.
The unanticipated result of this is that I now become unhinged when I recognize that 2 other people are
"not on the same page"
This mechanical model enabled me to cope with Moms decline into dementia.
Having done some search and rescue and my background in bio-medical engineering helped me maintain a "clinical"
Base. My "logical" sister was really unable to cope at all.
One of the more bizarre aspects of walking this razor thin line on the edge of insanity are these brief moments
of insight to the universe.
You hear of these moments when people in the middle of a drug trip when they get these incredible insights to the universe.
I get them, but they are not drug induced and there is no warning when they hit.
Im the last month, Ive had 3 of these episodes.
Unfortunately, they are far too brief.
I know that for that short moment I had all the answers, but Im unable to recall EVERYTHING that I knew during that brief episode.
One of them dealt in depth as to why color works, and for that short time, I knew so much about it,
and how it related to sound and radio, but now, I cant remember much of the insight.
A number of stations are using their additional virtual channels for alternate programming.
I have my choice of several chances to watch TV programming from the past.
Our CBS station has decided to mix news, history and programming, usually pairing them up by theme.
Last weekend was a whole weekend of Get Smart. It was fun, but it was alarming.
It lampooned far more than I had remembered. I noticed something disturbing.
All the villains were Germans.
This was the cold war, people were still smarting from WW2.
Right now the villains are all Eastern European and Middle Eastern.
Noticing that when its a Christian shooting up a shopping mall hes a "gunman" but a middle Easterner,
they are a "Terrorist" and presumed to be Muslim.
Now I find out that most of what we were told about Islam is false.
Wasnt this the same way that Hitler convinced people that it was OK to kill Jews ?
Its one of those times when the American flag becomes an embarrassment.
Now, we come to the title of the post.
In the late 1980s, some areas realized they needed to organize neighborhoods to become self sufficient
during emergencies such as quakes etc.
After Sept 11, FEMA decided they needed a national program to do that.
They were quite surprised that in some areas, such a thing was already under way.
FEMA studied these programs and standardized the curriculum into CERT.
The Community Emergency Response Team program is underway in most town in the US.
Our local program in El Cerrito has had its ups and downs and is being rebuilt.
I joined a radio team in 2000 whos mission was to support the neighborhood teams.
Unfortunately, its model was completely botched and I think Im the only one who realized it.
The only thing the team managed to do in 15 years was check batteries twice a year.
Theres a LOT more to building out a comms infrastructure than that.
I noticed that the relationship between the comms team and the Fire Dept had cooled and i finally asked the
Chief about this.
I asked if they were waiting for us to go away or what.
I was left reaching for the proverbial "clean underwear dispenser" when he told me that I was the only one who
"Got it" and they were waiting to see if I was going to eventually take control of the comms team.
I didnt want to take over, but there were things that needed to be done that werent happening.
I couldnt get them to happen (Like recruiting)
Finally, last Summer we had our 1st large scale drill in over 10 years that included the comms people and the neighborhood teams.
A lot of the bugs in the system that Id been chafing over were exposed.
Meanwhile the chief was not happy that we werent building out the system.
I pointed out to the team that they were about to be replaced and someone asked what could be done about it.
I answered that we needed to start actually building out the system and that having a thursday night "net" wasnt enough.
Somebody mentioned that they didnt know how to build out the system.
I pointed out that all these things I had been shot down on, were things that Chief needed us to do.
Next I knew, I had appointed myself the training officer for the team known as "KARO-ECHO", and much to my
pleasant surprise, they took to it.
I no longer had a "flock of sheep" I had people actually asking questions about how everything works, and asking for yet more training.
As they say "Be careful what you ask for, because you might get it".
Now, its a mad dash to keep developing curriculum.
It gets more complex.
As I architected and re architected the communications system, I started looking at the neighborhood teams.
There were almost none.
We have Area Coordinators, 17 of them, but almost no block captains.
The Area Coordinators are supposed to be setting up block level organizations, but instead are busy designing Area Command Posts.
You cant manage response on an area level with our level of training & resources.
I took the training back when we were "NEAT", so this year, I decided to take the free "CERT" training to both brush up and see what we are teaching the teams.
Our final is Sat at the Fire Training Facility.
My local area is "Kensington Six".
They are bungling the job, as are the other areas.
Someone recently expressed concern that Islamic Terrorists might attack the Golden Gate bridge.
Here I was, raised in a protestant family, barely functional on a social level, and I had learned more from the Holocaust than this Jewish psychologist.
This juxtaposition gave me chills.
Funny that he doesnt refer to the guy who blew up the Fed Bldg in Oklahoma as a "Christian Terrorist"
Its time to retire the "Tee word" and replace it with something more accurate.
People who kill people are just plain criminals, period.
So, this pretty much connects all the topics in this post.
The years at Grand Central Starport and now Dickens Faire are probably the only reasons that Christmas has not
proven fatal to me.
The whole reason I started this page was to give people I know a glimpse of what makes me tick.
I have one last thought on the depression thing.
Im hoping it doesnt mean someone Im separated from is in trouble.
Ive had a couple people let me know on the "mental plane" as they passed.
Its creepy, but I still appreciate them taking time on the way out to give me the "heads up"
I suppose that having this ability makes me some kind of witch or something.