In case any of you have been wondering why I’ve been quiet on the ‘net these last few months, the reason is that I’ve been writing some short stories. I’ve sold two this summer to an online e-magazine, the Grantville Gazette. If any of you have read 1632 by Eric Flint, the short stories are written in his alternate history universe.

You can read my first one at this link.

Ebook versions of this issue of the magazine will be available for sale and downloading on November 1, 2016 but you can read the online versions now. I don’t think it’s behind a paywall. I don’t see one myself.

The second story will be published in the Spring and two other are sitting in the slushpile.  I hope you like this. I wrote it twelve years ago and the editor called me last June and asked if I was interested in having it published. Things went on from there.

Posted in Me.

A Busy Weekend

I suppose some of you have noticed I’ve not been following my usual five posts per week this summer. There’s been a number of reasons for my reduced output.

  • Burnout from politics and my growing dissatisfaction with the GOP at all levels.
  • My decision to upgrade my Ham radio antenna system. A tree had grown to envelope my old vertical antenna.
  • Building a backup HF antenna, a 40M OCF dipole.
  • Taking off for a trek through the backroads of most of the western states that lasted most of July.
  • Passing a kidney stone after we returned home from our trek.
  • Upgrading my ham ticket from Advanced to Extra.
  • Move and reinstall my vertical antenna.

I’ve completed all those tasks except for the last and I’m close to finishing that.

This last weekend, I knocked off that next to last bullet on the list. I’ve been an Advanced class Ham for over 40 years, since 1971. It was time to upgrade.


Gordon West’s Extra Class License Manual

The class was hectic. It wasn’t a “class” per sé. It was a crash-review of all 700+ questions in the Extra class question pool. I had been studying for the test, off and on, since last Spring. I had both the ARRL Extra Class license manual and the Gordon West manual.

It is much easier studying today than studying for a FCC exam in the 1970’s.

At that time, the questions weren’t published. The only “public knowledge” questions were those whom test-takers could remember after leaving the FCC office and some group collected.

This was the second time I had passed the Extra Class written test. When I took the test to upgrade from Novice, I, like all the other hams at that time, took the test at a FCC office under the eyes of one or more of the FCC engineers. In my case it was the Kansas City FCC office (apparently soon to be closed, I hear.)

There were two engineers giving the test that Saturday in 1971. I knew both of them, not that that helped me any. Instead, their expectations of me were much higher.

There was a large crowd of hams at the FCC office that Saturday. I don’t remember how many, now; more than twenty, I believe. The usual practice was to give the Morse code test first and then, if you passed the code test, you were given the written test. That Saturday, there were too many Hams to be tested to follow the normal test pattern (plus the FCC office closed at noon. We had to be finished by that time.)

We lined up and, like many of us did in the military, counted off by twos. The “Ones” filed off to take their code test. The “Twos” went into a classroom to take their written tests. I was a “Two.”

As a Novice, I had to take the General/Technician test first. Then if I passed, I could take the Advanced test and the Extra. The senior engineer belonged to the same ham club as did I. He gave me my test sheets and kept me under his eye.

I quickly finished the General test and passed it. There was still time available so he stuck the Advanced test under my nose and said, “Take this, too.” I did.

Looking back, I thought the Advanced test was easier than the General test. I still had some free time. The other group was still taking their code tests.

The Morse code tests started at 5wpm for those wanting a Tech license, followed by the 13wpm for those seeking a General and Advanced class license. There were a few going for Extra. They were still waiting to take their 20wpm test.

Rather than sit around in the classroom doing nothing or wandering around in the lobby and having passed the General and Advanced test, my FCC friend gave me an Extra class test and said, “Do this one, too.” I hadn’t studied for the Extra class license, but I found many of the questions were similar to those on the General and Advanced tests, just more so.

I passed it. I don’t know by how much. My friend wouldn’t say, so I suspect I was a squeaker. I do remember his firm handshake when I passed it.

By that time, the code group had finished and it was my turn. In the 1970s the code test was generated by a machine reading a paper tape. It was perfect code running exactly as the required speeds. It was also 5-letter code groups. In later years, the code test became a multiple-choice test. I wasn’t interested in a Tech license and no one in our half of the group did either. We started off directly at 13wpm.

To pass the test you had to correctly copy “x” numbers of characters in a row. I had been using the on-air ARRL code practice sessions and was confident that I could pass 13wpm. I did. Since I had passed the Extra class written test, I took the 20wpm code test. As I recall, I needed to copy 100 characters correctly in a row. I gave my copy sheet to the engineer giving the code tests. He had a template that he used to grade the test. He kept shifting it all over my code sheet looking for that magic 100 correct characters.

He could only find 98.

So, I didn’t get my Extra class license that day. I went home an Advanced class. I never tried to retest for Extra until this last weekend.

Sometime in the Spring, I saw on Larry’s List, a ham radio email list, that our local W5YI group was scheduling a class for Extra in August 2015. That class was held this last weekend. I attended and passed the Extra class test late yesterday.

My timing is perfect. My test will be sent to the W5YI coordinator for confirmation and processing and then sent to the FCC. Usually, it would take about ten days to two weeks for my upgrade to appear in the FCC database.

But, as I said, my timing is perfect. The FCC will be taking their database down next week for maintenance. No 10-14 day turn-around for me. No, I expect I’ll have to wait two to four weeks for the FCC to work through the backlog.

Regardless, I passed. After forty years.


Mrs. Crucis had cataract surgery on one eye yesterday.  All went well.  She has a followup visit today.  I thought, yesterday, the followup would be at noon.

I was wrong. It’s earlier.

My blog planning hit a snag and I don’t have a post ready.  My bad.

On the other hand, for the first time since before we were married, Mrs. Crucis is walking around the house, fixing breakfast—all without glasses!  Before, she needed glasses just to see anything further than a foot away.  What a difference.

I’m feeling almost back to normal, too.  The last set of meds didn’t make me feel “weird” like those from last week.  No, they just prevented me from sleeping. Since Monday, if I got three hours of sleep, I thought I was doing good. Wednesday night, I may have gotten two hours.  

I stopped taking the meds.  Last night was the first time since I got sick that I had a decent amount of sleep.


Y’all have a great weekend.  Mrs. Crucis and I certainly will.                    

Survived the weekend (Updated)

I used to joke about that—surviving from one day to another.

I’m into my 10th day being sick. There have been a lot of ups and downs. For the last two days, I’ve incrementally been better. Overall yesterday was good. Yesterday evening not so good.

Today, my goal is a good day and a good evening.

Update (9/27/2011).  Great day yesterday. Went to the doc yesterday afternoon and got some different meds.  Felt great until it was time to go to bed.  Couldn’t sleep.  Didn’t doze off until after 2:00AM, and then intermittently.  Note-to-self: don’t take meds in the evening.

One day at a time.

At least, I’m feeling good enough to post something on the blog.


There are few things more frightening than cops with guns.  One of those few things are cops with SAMs.  Yes that’s right. The ability to shoot down an aircraft “if necessary.”  I can’t see the NYPD hauling around the large caliber anti-aircraft guns that would be effective, so, reading between the lines, that means SAMs.

I wonder if these are some of the ones missing from Libya?

NEW YORK (AP) — The chief of the New York Police Department says city police could take down a plane if necessary.

Commissioner Ray Kelly tells CBS’ “60 Minutes” that after the Sept. 11 attacks, he decided the city couldn’t rely on the federal government alone. He set about creating the NYPD’s own counter-terrorism unit. He says the department is prepared for multiple scenarios and could even take down a plane.

Kelly didn’t divulge details but said “obviously this would be in a very extreme situation.” 

This comes from the police department that needed 50 rounds to kill an unarmed man on his wedding day. There are other incidents by the NYPD when their officers killed an unarmed man.
Wonder what they’d do if Grandpa’s Piper Cub strayed off course over NYC?  Knowing the itchy trigger fingers of the cops in NYC…Boom!
Oh yes, this from the city who are afraid to allow their citizens the means to defend themselves but acquire heavy artillery for themselves.  More hypocrisy from Mayor Bloomberg.


Obama has been out campaigning and claiming to be a “class warrior.”  Of course we know what that is. Obama’s the enemy of the Eeeevile rich or anyone who still has a job, and an enemy of corporations and small businesses who provide those jobs.

Glenn McCoy has this view of Obama’s travels.

Class Warfare

Yeccch! (Updated)

Update: 5:00PM
The doc confirmed that I was hyperventilating.  Gag!  What a feeling!  I wouldn’t wish that sensation on my worst enemy.  Well, maybe BO. He deserves it.

Since I had some chest “cramps” last week, he did an EKG and another visit to the vampire.  EKG is fine, blood-sugar is fine. I’ve never had a history of any cardiac issues but since I’m at retirement age, I suppose it’s reasonable to check everything out.

His diagnosis confirmed mine: hyperventilating.  I’m still fighting the sinus infection that is leaving me weak, but if I can control my hyperventilating, I should be much, much better.

I now carry a little brown bag along with me. Unfortunately, it’s empty.


This is going to be short. I’m off to the doc again in a bit.

This has been the most…uncomfortable week in my memory.  It started last Saturday.  I thought I was getting a cold—sneezing, running nose, congestion, all the usual symptoms.  It appears now that it was a sinus infection.  I’m a chronic sufferer of those things.

As usual, I took a cold tab.  Yeah, is was two years old and out of date but all that means is that it lost some potency.

Big mistake.

I’ve never taken any illegal drugs. Never smoked MJ. In fact, I’m leery of taken any drugs even those prescribed for me. About an hour after taking that cold tab, I was wired!

I wasn’t congested anymore, but I felt all that post-nasal-discharge in the back of my throat like a rubber sheet. It felt like my throat was closing.

As long as I stood, it wasn’t too bad.  If I sat down and inclined any degree at all, the sensation came back.  I couldn’t sleep. The fact was, I was afraid to sleep because it felt as if I’d smother if I laid down, or just sat in a recliner.

I paced.  All night. Zero sleep.

Come the next morning, Sunday, the tab had worn off and after eating a scrambled egg, I felt better but still shakey.

My wife took me to urgent care. I received a ‘script for an antibiotic and a nasal spray with some suggestions to relieve the congestion.

I never want a repeat of Saturday night.

But…I’m still not feeling all that better.  I woke up this morning, still sleeping in a recliner, thinking, “I feel pretty good!”  Then I stood up and it was like a return to Saturday night.  I’m breathing OK.  In fact, I’ve not had any real problem breathing, just the sensation of a lack of breath.  When I was checked for oxygenation levels Sunday, I was at 95%.

I still feel like crap and there’s a gathering near Jeff City Saturday that I’d like to attend. So I’m off, back again to the doc.  This time my personal one.

Most likely this is all in my head, figuratively and literally speaking.  I just don’t want to continue feeling like…crap.                      

On the Radio!

State Senator Brian Nieves
Today is a first.  I was invited on a radio program hosted by Brian Nieves and Dave Bailey on KWMO, Washington, MO.  The appearance covered my efforts in the passage of the “Don’t Tread on Me” vanity license plate.  Brian, a MO state Senator from Washington, MO, was the MO Senate liaison for the bill.

While it was only five minutes, I did get my few moments of fame.


Not everyone in Washington sold us out.  I was heartened to hear my local US Representative, Vicky Hartzler (R-MO-4) voted NO against the debt increase bill.
At least there is one politician in Washington who has the guts to stand on her principles and uphold those who send her there.
Unlike Boehner and McConnell.  Spit!!


The Cartoon of the Day is presented by Michael Ramirez.
And free cell phones and internet?
The debt deal is done to all our detriment. Now the knives come out.

Beware The ‘Supercommittee’

Budget Policy: Congress’ debt-ceiling deal kicked the can over to a special bipartisan “supercommittee” that will make big decisions on spending cuts and taxes. Will that panel be top-heavy with liberals?
There is a lot to fear from the establishment of an umpteenth blue-ribbon commission designed to solve another dilemma said to be beyond the reach of the ordinary legislative procedures of the U.S. government.
One such recent supercommittee of sorts, the 2006 Iraq Study Group, recommended another Vietnam-style surrender for the U.S.; then-President George W. Bush turned the tables with Gen. David Petraeus’ successful Iraq surge initiative.
Tea Party activists are properly worried about Congress’ new supercommittee duping the public into accepting tax hikes and phantom spending reform.
FreedomWorks Vice President Max Pappas, for instance, charged last week that “Speaker Boehner is using the committee as a facade for potential tax increases down the road without having to commit to anything on paper right now while the debate is hot. So essentially, the supercommittee is the tax hike.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, meanwhile, is mocking “Republican leaders in the Senate saying there will be no revenue.” According to Reid, “that’s not going to happen” because “this joint committee” will agree to politically “painful” tax increases.

The entire article can be found here.

I’ve heard some call this group the “Politburo.”  I think it’s about right.


I haven’t had time to research anything for today’s post.  I spent yesterday at the Docs getting a bunch of X-rays, a visit to the Vampire’s lab and then a short trip to get hooked into a monitoring harness.  
So far, everything is looking fine. I just haven’t been feeling all the great for the last month and more so the last ten days.  I finally decided it was better to get checked out and know than to continue and keep wondering.

The only thing found so far is that I’ve picked up a sinus infection.  That may be the cause of my headaches.  Also I definitely have arthritis in my right knee and the ache from that has been keeping me awake at night.

So y’all get a reprieve from my rants.  I have to return the monitor this afternoon. I don’t know if I’ll get anything ready for Friday.  You’ll just have to wait and see.