About Crucis

I'm a retired telecom engineer, life NRA member, Amateur Radio Operator and Air Force vet. I created this blog at the urging of some folks who think I have an occasional thought. A liberal friend once described me as "being just to the right of Atilla the Hun." I thanked her for that description and told her I'd do my best to maintain her expectations.


As you can see, Crucis’ Court, is changing. It’s been a political blog since 2008. It’s now time for a change. The ‘Court was an education. It taught me the basics of writing when, in my last working years, I was searching how to remain busy after retirement. I found that activity—writing.

The blog came first. Writing fiction came later. As with any new skill, writing required practice. I wrote a lot and, on an average, was able to sell one or two stories a year to a traditional publisher.

The Grantville Gazette, was an avenue to learn and, eventually, a publisher who bought some stories. My first story, written in Eric Flint’s 1632 universe, Greetings!, was published in 2016. In the following years, they bought The Marshal Comes to Suhl, (it will reappear in an anthology later this year,) and a three-part novella, SMC. My latest 1632 story, The Searchers, appeared in issue #87, in January of this year and, like Greetings!, was the issue cover story.

In the mean time, I was writing for the Universe side of the Grantville Gazette. They bought The Enigma of Charlie Peabody, a modern fantasy, and two science fiction stories that have been merged into a novella. The Phantom of Barrington Light was published in May, 2019, and the second part, The Keeper of Barrington Light, in July of 2019.

I’ve merged these two stories into a single novella, The Beacon at Barrington Light. The Beacon is scheduled for release on February 7, 2020, on Amazon. This novella will soon be followed with a novel, Émigré, as soon as the proofreaders finish with it.

I’ve another work in progress. Dundee Orbital will be a collection of short stories, novelettes, and a novella that have a common theme, Dundee Orbital, a thirty kilometer long station above the planet Inverness.

As I said, changes are coming. If you’d like to keep informed, please subscribe via the sidebar, to this blog.

The Beacon at Barrington Light

I’ve just pushed the publish button for this novella. It’s available for pre-order, now, from Amazon and will be available on February 7th, 2020.

Please help an old writer and tell your friends. Spend $0.99 and have a good read.

Ping-Ping, Ping-Ping! The alert woke Captain Charles LeMont of the buoy tender CNAS Halcyon, a naval auxiliary ship. He slapped the link on his wrist to shut off the pinging and sat up in the dimness of his cabin. His eyes felt gummy; he rubbed them, trying to remove the sleep grit that had accumulated since he had gone to bed.

“Go ahead, Comm.” LeMont’s head throbbed. How long had he been asleep? Not long enough for his nanites to purge him of the effects of a hangover.

“Barrington Light is offline, again, Captain. We’ve received another maintenance call,” the communications watch officer announced via the ship’s interlink. “Mission order sent to your link.”

LeMont yawned. Geez, again! “Roger,” LeMont replied. “Give me five minutes for a shower. Please have coffee and breakfast sent to my cabin; following that, contact Dundee Orbital Control for a departure time-slot for…” His head was pounding. Oh, hell. The Engineer was there last night, too. “Check with the Engineer first. Tell him I want us ready to undock in two hours. If two hours creates issues, have him call me.”

“Uh, Captain, System Control wants an ETA and estimate to repair.”

Idiots! We just got the mission order. “Tell them they’ll know when—no…tell them we’ll provide one as soon as we can.” LeMont calmed down. The hangover boosted his irritability level to new heights.

“Aye, aye, Captain.”

“Oh, tell Dave Fuentes I’ll meet him on the bridge in half an hour.” David Fuentes was the Halcyon‘s First Officer.

“Will do, Captain.”

The Halcyon was just coming off a thirty-day R&R—Refit and Replenishment. The traditional crew party, marking the start of their next cruise—or the end of R&R depending upon your perspective, ended only a few hours ago.

“Lights, fifty percent.” LeMont suspected he wasn’t the only one waking to a pounding head. He headed for the ‘fresher feeling his medical nanites dealing with his hangover as the cabin’s overhead brightened.

The Beacon at Barrington Light


Coming soon! Émigré

This blog has been inactive for some time. I’m resurrecting it to be my Writer’s website. I’ve been writing fiction for some time and have made over a dozen sales (two more pending).

Initially, I wrote Alternative History, writing in Eric Flint’s 1632 universe. I’ve had two novelettes purblished in Eric Flint’s Grantville Gazette plus a 33K word novella in . My fourth story will appear in an upcoming issue of the Gazette.

My big announcement is the publishing of my first full-sized novel early in 2020. The cover and back cover blurb is shown below. I’ll add an Amazon link when it’s published.

Emigre front cover

Dundee Orbital over Inverness.

When Fabien Loche arrives in the Confederation as SolSytem’s newest Liaison, his government believes he’s a broken man sent into exile. But the new job, and the new culture, are far more strange and welcoming than either had anticipated. With the help of the local Chief Inspector, and his headstrong niece Molly, Loche plunges headlong into exploring and learning everything on the station above and world below.

More is riding on his assimilation than his future. He’s also the vanguard of the spaceborne Houses of SolSystem, who are preparing to flee the reach of an increasingly unstable and aggressive Earth. But the Confederation is far more fragmented and factioned than he expected. The scramble to control the highly advanced technology that the Houses will bring, and the fear of losing it, may be the wedge that drives Confederation and Sol System alike into war…

Émigré will be available in paperback and as an ebook.


Isle of Hope

I’ve been listening to songs by the Celtic Women lately. In particular, one song—Isle of Hope.

It’s a song about Ellis Island and the immigrants of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. By coincidence, my father at age two, his parents and his five other siblings immigrated to the US via Ellis Island.

I’ve visited Ellis Island. My parents and I took a trip and one stop was at New York. Dad had a nephew living in Manhattan. While we were there, we also toured the city and took a trip out to Ellis Island.

This was in 1959, if I remember correctly. The island was closed during WW2 and when we visited, most of the buildings were needing repair. One small building housed the National Park Service staff and all the records of immigrants since 1892 when the Island opened.

I remember my father going through the records for November 1904. I don’t remember the exact date but he found the entries of his family arriving via a German ship via Hamburg. The Park Ranger said that each country, at that time, had a quota—not of individual citizens, but by point of departure. That year, November 1904, the UK and Ireland had filled their quotas. Germany had not. Therefore, my father and his family  entered the  country from Hamburg and were counted against the German quota.

When Dad searched the records, he discoved his family was almost sent back to Hamburg. Once of his sisters was sick. The medical examiner placed her, and the entire family, in quarantine for two weeks—if my father’s family could pay the cost of their food and board during the quarantine. Since I’m here, they paid the costs were released at the end of the quarantine to enter the country.

There is so much controversy about immigration now. The libs what open borders. more welfare recipients, more mouths dependent on government, i.e., democrat largess using taxpayer money. When my father and his family entered the country, there was no benefits—no welfare, no food-stamps, no government housing, nothing that they couldn’t pay for themselves.

One of the requirements, at that time, was that all adult males must have a usable skill, a skill or trade that would allow them to become self-sufficient. My father’s family were miners, a skill in high demand. Specifically, my grandfather, and later my father, was a Master Blaster. He prepared and set off explosions in the mines to provide access to the mine’s coal or ores.

How different are the days from then until now. My father’s parents and his family came to the United States to take advantage of the opportunities present here. My father followed my grandfather working in the mines as a Master Blaster. My two uncles became engineers. My aunts married and moved across the country from the glassworks of Pittsburgh, to the factories at Chicago and Indiana to the plains of eastern Colorado.

The immigrants of today evade the entry requirements. They bypass the legal immigration path to sneak across the border in violation of our law. They commit crimes coming here illegally and continue to commit crimes by staying here. They don’t and won’t assimilate into our culture but by refusing to assimilate, wreck great harm to the United States. These illegals provide no benefit to our nation.Rather, they are parasites, leaching off our country and our taxpayer dollars.

I remember: Kenneth Tate, US Army, 1946 – 1967

Kenneth Tate, US Army, 1946 – 1967


Most men my age, served during Vietnam in one form or another. After I graduated from Southern Illinois University, I entered the Air Force. Ken went into the Army.

I was born and grew up in Illinois, southern Illinois in Benton, IL, the Franklin County seat. I attended Benton Consolidated High School along with several hundred others. One of those in my class was Kenneth W. Tate, a very distant cousin from my mother’s side.

Ken was a tall, lanky, farm boy, who lived, if I recall correctly, to the northeast from Benton.  I lived on another farm in the opposite direction.  If it weren’t for the occasional family get-togethers and high school, I’d probably never have met him.  But we were distantly related and we did attend high school together.  We ran around with the same bunch and were geeks and band-members.  I played a trombone, Ken played the drums. 

For him, like many of us, being in the band was more of an opportunity to get out of PE class that is was for music. The school felt that being in the marching band in the fall was sufficient to meet the state’s PE requirement.  That drew many into our band clique.

Ken and I took the same math and science classes. We were lab partners for Biology, Chemistry and Physics…the standard college-prep curriculum. When we graduated in 1964, I went off to Southern Illinois University. Ken started classes at a nearby Junior College but he didn’t attend long.

The draft was in force during that time.  It was a strong motivator to remain in school with a 2-S deferment. Rather than being drafted, Ken enlisted in the Army.  I lost track of him until a couple of years later when I received a letter from my father. Inside with the letter was a clipping…Ken’s obituary.  I didn’t know the details until later.

From the Benton Evening News, September 18, 2009. (The original link no longer works.)

Benton, Ill. —

A trip to Northern Illinois by a U.S. Army veteran resulted in an emotional tribute to a Benton man who died in the Vietnam War.

Joe Hare of Columbia, Ky., on Tuesday honored the memory of fellow Black Lions 28th U.S. Infantry member Kenneth W. Tate, who was killed in action on Sept. 6, 1967 — two days after his 21st birthday.


Hare and his wife, Pat, were joined by some of Tate’s family members and friends at his gravesite in the Masonic & Odd Fellows Cemetery.


“It’s not easy, is it?” Hare asked, his voice trembling. “I didn’t think I would do this bad.”
Tate was the first person from Franklin County to die in Vietnam.


“I’ve forgotten how many people came to his funeral,” said Tate’s stepsister, Alana Day, “but there were 140 cars at the funeral home.”

There’s a bit more information here at the Virtual Wall.  I didn’t know Ken was a LRRP (Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol). All that we heard was that he was on a patrol and was killed. Someone, I don’t remember who now, said he was killed by a mine.  I don’t know if that’s true or not. It doesn’t really matter, now.

I don’t know why I keep thinking of Ken. We weren’t all that close. Circumstances put us together fifty years ago for a period of time. I can still remember his face.

Perhaps it is, as someone once said, that as long as we remember, they aren’t really gone but live within us.  I have no doubt Ken and I will meet again…and laugh remembering when we made nitroglycerin and bombed pigeons outside the window of our 2nd floor High School Chemistry lab using an eyedropper.

Well! That was exciting.

The Court has been down for about a week. I’m not sure why.

I noticed a week ago that when I tried to open the ‘Court, that nothing appeared. I was finally able to get an error message. One database table got corrupted and I followed the instructions on how to repair it.

However, the ‘Court didn’t reappear after the fix. it’s taken me a week to figger out the cause. To repair the database, you have to add a line to the config file. I had failed to remove that line after the repair. A few minutes ago I did—AND IT’S BACK!!!

I haven’t blogged in a while. but I did for eleven years. I would really hate to have lost it all.

Repost: Protected

I originally wrote this post in 2012 after Sandy Hook. After the events yesterday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, it’s still as pertinent as it was six years ago. It was a school shooting, The difference was that this was at a high school instead of an elementary school.

Similarities exist. A shooter walks into a No Gun Zone and kills. Contrary to the Connecticut shooting, there was a, one, law enforcement officer on campus—on the other side of the high school campus.

Why is this important? The school contained 3,200 students, more than many of the small towns in the area, and with multiple buildings. Think on that for a moment. Over 3,000 kids, teachers, administrative staff and one, ONE!, protector.


The libs scream for gun control. That has never worked and they know it. But gun control is all the libs have, nothing else.

The current talking heads, including Florida’s ‘Pub governor call for more mental healthcare, and over-watch of those who have mental problems. That won’t work either. How can you know if someone, who has never drawn anyone’s attention, is homicidal? You can’t.

Then what is the solution?

One that has been proposed for years and the libs block at every instance. Arm the teachers, arm the administrators, and, hire some guards who have proven themself in critical situations—like veterans and retired or former police officers.

A single security guard for a campus larger than many small towns across American is a sure path to failure, as we have just seen.

The events in Connecticut triggered a memory. A memory from nearly 60 years ago at a time when I was in grade school.

The school I attended was rural…a country school of three classrooms with a peak enrollment around seventy students. There were three classrooms, first through third grade, fourth and fifth grades, and in the largest room, sixth through eighth grades.

There were three teachers—Mrs. Williams, Mrs. Rhodes, and Mr. Helfritch the Principal; one full-time janitor/school bus driver and two older ladies as cooks.  The school was rich. It sat in the middle of a half-section of land; property deeded to the school district after WW1. The property also contained two oil wells whose royalties made the school one of the best funded in the county.

This incident occurred early in the fall of the school year. A family rented an old dilapidated house about 300 yards from the school connected by an overgrown track reduced to a foot-path. That family had three children in our school; one boy my age, a younger sister and a younger brother.

The family could best be described as…white trash. The father and his several brothers were drunks. They worked occasionally at one of the nearby mines but only long enough to qualify for “relief.”

On this day, the older boy had done something, or perhaps, not done something to cause the ire of his father. We were at morning recess when we saw the father enter the front of the school, followed shortly by loud voices and words we weren’t suppose to know, much less speak. The father was quickly escorted out of the school by Mr. Helfritch.

I don’t remember his first name. I may not have known it. All our teachers had similar first names—Mister, Miss, or Misses. I remember Mr. Helfritch as a slight, blond-haired man of medium height with a flat-top haircut. He was a WW2 veteran and a state policeman before being recalled for the Korean war.

Lunch recess was the longest of the day; an hour at least. I suppose it gave the adults time to savor lunch, coffee and to talk a bit. On this day, Mr. Helfritch was, uncharacteristically, outside watching the kids. Some friends and I were playing marbles in an bare area we’d hacked from a small grove of man-high saplings and briers. It was “our” place. We hadn’t been there long when we saw the father returning accompanied by two of his brothers.

They walked up to Mr. Helfritch demanding the older boy. My friends and I were close enough to hear some words, enough to understand some of the conversation. When Mr. Helfritch refused, one brother took a swing. In an instant, two of the three visitors were on the ground. The remaining one had a knife in his hand and Mr. Helfritch had a .45 pointed at the knife-wielder’s nose at a distance of about two feet. He carried the pistol in a shoulder holster every day my Father later told me.

Someone called the Sheriff and Mr. Helfritch kept the three covered while Rudi, the Janitor, looped a few turns of rope around their legs. They were going nowhere quickly. A Deputy arrived some time later and hauled them off.

My Father, who was an auxiliary Sheriff’s Deputy, told that Mr. Helfritch was a reserve police officer. He had been a full-time state trooper before being recalled for the Korean War. When he came home from Korea, he decided to be a teacher instead of a state trooper, but, like many in those times, he kept his reserve police commission. It was the only way he could legally carry a concealed weapon in Illinois. It was the same reason my father was an auxiliary Deputy Sheriff.

I’d forgotten that incident for many years. Dad told me Mr. Helfritch said the school kids were under his protection. He would allow no one to threaten his students. I have no doubt, and it was proven in Connecticut last week, teacher’s today would do the same…if they had the tools to do so. Unfortunately, as was proven last week, those tools have been denied and those teachers did their best—dying defending their students.

It should not have happened. The best defense for our children is still people—armed people—armed teachers willing to do what is necessary to protect their charges.