Happy Thanksgiving!

Mrs. Crucis and I wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving.


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For you non-Hams, QSL means, “I confirm your communication with me.” Today, this occurs most often when we upload our logs to one of several databases, such as the ARRL’s Logbook of the World.

Hams used to confirm contacts with paper, post-card sized, QSL cards. I still send them out. I recently worked a Hawaiian station. We both said we’d exchange real QSL cards. The Hawaiian station sent me an email today saying he had received mine and his was on its way to me. In the mean time, he sent me this electronic version.




Check out Benedictus by Hayley Westenra


A Family Tradition

Times change…and then sometimes they don’t.  I grew up in the Fifties in rural Southern Illinois. Like most of the country, we had our traditions of the Holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years were THE big events of the years for families. Easter was another one but it was more oriented towards faith and many families observed Easter at church and at home.

The big three holidays usually involved traveling for many. My sister and brother-in-law visited us at the Farm most of the time. My brother-in-law was an outdoorsman, a term not often heard anymore.

In the summer, he liked to fish. He and my sister built a home on the shore of a twenty-acre lake. In the winter, he liked to hunt. Ducks and geese had their season. Squirrels and rabbits had theirs.  In the fifties, there was no deer season. They were rare after being almost hunted out during the Twenties before hunting became regulated.

I’ve written about our Thanksgiving hunting tradition in another post. However, there were other hunting traditions, too, during the Fall. The most common was rabbit hunting.

While November and December were Duck and Goose seasons; August and September was Squirrel season, October was reserved for Rabbit Season and was my favorite. When I was growing up I hunted, and trapped, rabbits in a variety of ways. A neighbor kid and I once hunted them with baseball bats in an overgrown gully after a fresh snow. We had also hunted with bows and arrows. But we hunted most often with firearms.

I killed more rabbits with a .22 rifle, catching them sitting along a fence line. But hunting with dogs was the best.

Dad raised a variety of hunting dogs. His favorites were Beagles. In October, my brother-in-law Dick Harriss would arrive early on Saturday and Dad  and I would load up a half dozen dogs into his pick-up and we’d head off to the fields.

On this occasion, we went to an area called Beaver Dam, a section of the Big Muddy River that ran through Franklin County, IL. It was a small river than ran through the farm of one of my mother’s cousins, Roy Miller. Roy wasn’t much of a hunter but he did like to eat rabbits. We could use his land for hunting as long as we gave Roy a ‘tithe’ of any rabbits we killed.

Unlike hunting for Quail or Pheasant with dogs, hunting for rabbits with dogs was different. In the former case, dogs were used to find and flush birds. You could only kill game birds while in flight. Rabbits, on the other hand, didn’t fly. Dogs would range ahead of us searching for sitting rabbits. When one was found, it ran with the dogs not far behind.

That day, we had been walking along a fence line towards the river. Dad was on one side of the fence. Dick and I was on the other side. We were silent. The only sound was the crunch of ice ribbons forced out of the ground by the sub-freezing overnight temperatures as we walked with a whisper of wind through the saplings growing along the fence.

Roy Miller hadn’t cleared his fence line in some time. It was overgrown with saplings and briar patches. We were half-way to the river when the dogs flushed a rabbit that took off down the fence line with the dogs running right behind it. The race was on.

Rabbits don’t have much endurance. They are sprinters. They will run a bit and then hunker down hoping whatever is chasing them will pass them by. Beagles hunt by scent and by sight. When beagles lose sight of their prey, they start sniffing. Hunting rabbits with dogs is a series of sprints and pauses.

If the rabbit runs away, how can a hunter shoot one you may ask. It’s simple. Rabbits don’t run in straight lines or directly away. They run in circles. All a hunter needs to do is to listen to the dogs. When the rabbit circles, the sound of the dogs will let you know to keep and eye for a streak of brown running through the brush or a field. The trick is to shoot the rabbit, not the dog who is following close behind. Some hunters never learn that little skill.

On some occasions, the rabbit will circle, return and never be seen. In fact that is what happens in most of the cases. On that morning, I was on the outside, away from the fence line. Dick was on the inside close to the fence, Dad was on the other side of the fence.

We heard the dogs turn on the circle. I was carrying a Stevens, break-open, single shot, 12ga shotgun. I usually carried it open, empty until I heard the dogs approach. Dad carried his Remington Model 11 and Dick carried his 16ga bolt-action shotgun. When the dogs began to circle, I slipped a #4 shotshell into the chamber and closed the action.

At first it seemed the rabbit would come on Dad’s side of the fence. But when the dogs got closer, they switched to our side. Because I was on the outside from the fence, my shooting section was to my right. Dick, closer to the fence, could only shoot if the rabbit appeared to our front. Most often a rabbit would follow cover, in this case the fence. I expected Dick would get the shot.

We continued walking down the fence line with a slightly slower pace. The dogs came closer and I cocked my shotgun. We took a couple more steps and I spotted a streak of brown through the high grass to my right. I brought my shotgun to my shoulder, swung on the target, gave it a bit of lead and fired.

I thought I had missed. The dogs stopped and began to mill about as if they had lost the scent.

http://www.gameandfishmag.com/files/2010/09/ra_0107_06a.jpgI walked over to where I had last seen the rabbit.  The field was a pasture with dead, brown grass rising about eighteen inches over the ground. It was threaded with small game trails and tunnels under the cover of fallen grass stems throughout the field. I walked about fifty yards through the grass when I found the rabbit. There were a couple of blood specks on its fur but it appeared to be otherwise undamaged. I raised my hand indicating that I’d found the rabbit and then slipped it into the pouch on the rear of my hunting jacket.

It felt good swinging in the pouch as I walked back towards the fence. In a few moments the dogs found another rabbit and another hunt was on.

We finished the day with a half dozen rabbits. I got another one late in the day. Dad and Dick split the rest. We gave one rabbit to Roy for his ‘tithe.’ We were all pleased with the results of the hunt.

I remember this day for another reason. It was the day I broke the stock of my shotgun. We were loading up to go home. Dad and Dick slipped their guns into gun cases. I didn’t have one. We were loading the dogs into Dad’s pickup when my shotgun fell to the concrete of Roy Miller’s driveway. It landed vertically on the butt of the stock and the stock cracked at the grip behind the trigger. Its weakest point.

It was an old shotgun, older than me or Dick. It was probably made around the time of WW1 and the woodwork had a bit of hidden rot. It was a cumbersome gun to use. I had to cock it to fire and the hammer spring was so strong that I had to brace the stock on my thigh and use both thumbs to cock the hammer. One time my thumbs slipped and it went off, braced on my thigh and for a moment I thought I’d broken my leg. I hadn’t but I did get a bruise that took a couple of weeks to heal.

Rather than take my shotgun to a gunsmith for repairs, Dad traded it for a 12ga, single-shot Winchester. The Winchester was of a different design and it had a safety and cocked when the action was closed. It didn’t have an exposed hammer like the Steven had.

It was the last shotgun I owned until a few years ago when I found a Remington Model 11 shotgun just like Dad’s at a gun show. It had been re-blued and the stock and forearm had only a few dings and scratches. All  of Dad’s (and my Winchester shotgun) firearms were stolen while I was away at college. I always envied Dad’s Remington. Now I have one just like his.

We continued to hunt rabbits every weekend in October for several years until I left for college. I’ve not hunted rabbits since. Today, people in Kansas and Missouri prefer to hunt deer and turkeys. My hunting choice was and still is rabbits.

When Veteran’s Day was Armistice Day

Contrary to current common observance, today was originally Armistice Day—celebrating the end of World War I.  The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words:

Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and
Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and

Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.

I can remember celebrating Armistice Day.  My earliest memory was standing along one of our town’s main streets with my family watching a parade of returning Korean War Veterans marching down main street accompanied by Tanks, bands and floats (tractor hauled wagons.) That changed by a proclamation by Dwight D. Eisenhower on October 8th, 1954 that designated November 11th as Veteran’s Day. 

All was well until 1968 when Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250) or the Uniform Holiday Bill. That bill was intended to ensure three-day weekends for Federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. It was thought that these extended weekends would encourage travel, recreational and cultural activities and stimulate greater industrial and commercial production. Many states did not agree with this decision and continued to celebrate the holidays on their original dates.” — Department of Veteran’s Affairs.”

Under this law, Veteran’s Day was observed on October  25th causing much confusion.  President Gerald Ford moved Veteran’s Day back to November 11 by an order in 1975.

Considering all the wrangling over the holiday, one result of having Veteran’s Day on November 11th is that no one remembers that it was originally set aside to celebrate the end of the First World War.  Before the two holiday were merged, each had their own observances.  Veterans are also honored on other days such as Memorial Day, Flag Day and and even the Fourth of July. 

Personally, I think the WW1 vets have been robbed, if any are left.  My mother had a cousin who was a WW1 veteran (search the Court for Heinie Mueller.)

I would much prefer that Veterans have a holiday all our own. A day solely for us and not usurping a celebration intended for others.

Until that happens, however…Happy Veterans AND Armistice Day!  

Happy Birthday, USMC

Happy Birthday, US Marines!

The Marine Corps was created on November 10, 1775, in Tun Tavern, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by a resolution of the Continental Congress. In 1834 the marines became part of the Department of the Navy.

The globe and anchor signify worldwide service and sea traditions. The spread eagle represents the nation itself. The motto is clenched in the beak of the bird.

To all you current, inactive and retired Marines,

His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
Mathew 25-21.

Cruz #1 in FOX’s Power Index

I get a number of newsletters each day from a number of sources. Most of them are repetitive and duplicate one another. One is from FOX, their Fox News First Daily Politics newsletter.

I have a growing distaste with some of the FOX mainliners, mostly Brit Hume and Charles Krauthammer. Both are GOP establishment propaganda artists. However, the mainline reporting of the news on FOX is still “Fair and Balanced.”

One feature of this daily newsletter is their political power index—which candidate has the most potential coming out #1 for the GOP nomination—the survivability factor.  I admit, I’ve been skimming this for a while. But today, FOX actually gave a brief explanation of the index.  It’s worth reading and the same for their analysis.

The article begins with an analysis of Jeb’s campaign and his reported long-term plans—mainly to be a disrupter hoping to still be around when the dust settles. His recent attacks against Marco Rubio were examples according to the article.

But is it possible that Bush can knock out Rubio, Kasich, Christie and Carly Fiorina and be the last man standing to face the surviving member of the Donald TrumpBen CarsonTed Cruz tontine?

One of the reasons that Cruz continues to lead the index is that just such a scenario looks likely: An establishment candidate who emerges badly damaged by Bush’s attacks – or is Bush himself – proves unable to contend with the well-funded, well-organized Cruz, who continues to look best situated to survive his bracket.

Bush’s strategy involves winning a civil war within a civil war before March. And then face not some late-breaking Huckabeatific candidate scrambling to raise funds and build out staff but rather a juggernaut with cash reserves. Carson raised $10 million last month alone and is building a sizable campaign. Cruz may have close to $100 million when all is said and done.

But is it technically possible that Bush could survive the second civil war and destroy the conservative wing’s candidate or that the conservative would belatedly self-destruct? Yes, technically.

After that long ugly slog, though, what are the chances that Bush would be able to turn and pivot to fight a successful general election campaign against Hillary Clinton? She’s wrapping up her nomination now, and would be ready to unleash hell on her fellow dynastic claimant.

An establishment candidate without an electability argument for the general election is like a turtle without a shell: squished too easily. And that’s why the donors who made Bush into the $100 million man will now withhold the money he needs more desperately than ever.

1) Ted Cruz; 2) Marco Rubio; 3) Ben Carson; 4) Carly Fiorina; 5) Donald Trump; 6) Chris Christie [+2]; 7) John Kasich; 8) Jeb Bush [-2]; 9) Mike Huckabee [+1] ; 10) Rand Paul [-1]

On the radar –Bobby JindalRick SantorumLindsey GrahamGeorge PatakiJim Gilmore

— Fox Newsletter, November 2nd, 2015.

I am a Cruz supporter. I also like a number of the other candidates—Carson, Jindall, Fiorina and more distantly Rubio. I can accept any of them as the GOP candidate.

The power index has Trump as #5. While I can understand why he’s popular—and I agree with many of his statements, he’s become an artist of hyperbole and when pressed for specifics, doesn’t answer. I do applaud his tax plan. At least he has one and many others don’t. I like a flat tax—as long as there are no exceptions in the plan, nor specific taxes on a particular segment of taxpayers.

Ben Carson knocked Trump out of the lead in Iowa. It’s one state and too early to tell if it is a trend in other states.

One of Carson’s strengths, as well as for Trump, is that he’s seen as a Washington outsider. That is also true of Cruz. Yes, Cruz is a sitting Senator. He’s also been that lone voice speaking for the country and conservative values with occasional support by Rand Paul and to a lesser extent from Marco Rubio.

Cruz has an enviable track record. That’s a steep hill to climb for Carson or Trump, even for Rubio whose credentials are not, from a conservative viewpoint, as good as that of Cruz. Rubio is still tainted by his pronouncements on illegal immigration and favoring open borders. The whole immigration and open border issue will be critical in the coming years. We’re being invaded and Obama and the democrats are allowing that invasion. Rubio is on the wrong side of the issue.

So, for me, it’s Cruz all the way…and according to FOX’s Power Index, he has the funds and determination to win through to the nomination. I’ve seen nothing to say or indicate otherwise.