Sunday, April 10, 2011

Electronic Attack and a Painful Memory Lapse

So I've mentioned that I'm now working part-time at a big box retailer. Last night, something odd happened that had me flashing back to the Army. See, we use portable radio transceivers in the store. Okay, walkie-talkies. So last night, someone came onto our channels and started saying he was Kermit the Frog, asking if anyone had ever made it with a puppet and talking about condoms and crap.

Which was annoying, but slightly entertaining. But as time went on, he interrupted more frequently, and by the time he announced he would be reading from Alan Ginsburg's Howl, I was seriously hoping they called the cops on the jerk. And I was hoping that when the cops caught him, they would give us all the chance to take turns kicking this kid in the balls. I mean, seriously, Howl? It's like the Starcrash of poetry.

Of course, later I felt a little sorry for the pathetic turd. I mean, it's Saturday night, and this is all you can think of to do with it? Sit in a shopping center parking lot with a walkie-talkie, reading Howl and fapping (one of the girls was sure she heard him doing that as well)?

But the Army flashback... I was in signal intelligence, and one of the jobs there was radio jamming. And basically all radio jamming is, is taking a stronger signal and using it to overwhelm a weaker signal. In true Army fashion, they have a boring official name for it, though this one's cooler than most: Electronic Attack. His signal didn't seem much stronger than ours, but it was strong enough that it would interfere with ours.

Another function of jammers is something they called ICD when I was in, Imitative Communications Deception. Basically, getting on the radio and pretending to be the enemy, calling in false reports and false orders. Which is what this guy was doing, sort of, at least when he started. After he'd been on a while, I started thinking back to my Army days, wondering whether I could rig up some sort of directional antenna so I could triangulate on his position.

But in the end, we settled on another accepted military practice, switching to a backup frequency and observing communications discipline, keeping communications to a minimum (which I kind of wish we would do all the time).

Oh yeah, and at some point, someone offered me some gum. I broke a tooth about three and a half years ago, which has been slowly decaying ever since. Every few months, I have another little chunk break off in my mouth. A few months ago, I had to stop chewing on that side, because it was bothersome. Lately, it's been downright painful.

But I hadn't chewed a piece of gum in a long time, and I thought, "No problem. I'll just keep it on the other side of my mouth." And I was fine for about five minutes or so. Then I absent-mindedly let it switch to the other side.

The pain was blinding. I seriously thought I might have to go home for a second there. But we were already short-handed, and I really need the money, so I stayed, and about ten minutes later, I was fine again.

But wow. No more gum until I get this fixed.

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