Pivot Points

My wife and I was at dinner recently and we were discussing some long-ago event. It occurred to me that there was a single point that changed the direction of our life. A point that created a fork in our life, a divergence from the life before us. That pivot point was an invitation to lunch.

It happened in January, 1976. I was working in an administrative job for a flour milling company. The company owned a number of flour mills across the country and one charcoal plant. My job, depending on the day of the week, was Payroll Manger (hourly employees), Data Processing Manager, Assistant Treasurer, Payroll Accounting Manger, and on Friday, Manager of the company Benefit Program—paying medical claims for the salaried employees.

A couple of weeks after New Years in January, 1976, I received an invitation to lunch by a Ham Radio friend. I had been a Ham Radio operator for four years and was interested in RTTY, Radio Teletype. So was my friend.

I had spent my Christmas Holiday building a RTTY demodulator. The device decoded two RTTY tones received over the air and converted the tones to Baudot code for the TTY printer. In transmit mode, it received Baudot code from my TTY keyboard and converted that code into two tones that would be transmitted over the air. I had designed and built the demodulator from scratch. I was very proud of it and, at the request of my Ham Radio friend, took it with me. My Ham buddy wanted to see it.

When I arrived, I found my friend sitting with another. My friend was a field maintenance engineer for a Texas-based distributed computing company. The other person sitting at lunch was his boss. The boss was based in Minneapolis and visited Kansas City monthly. That day was his January monthly visit.

The lunch went well. I presented my pride-and-joy, described the circuitry and the techniques I had used in its construction. After twenty minutes, my friend received a customer call, some equipment needed maintenance. He departed leaving me with his boss.

It was a setup.

It was a job interview. My friend had accepted a position within the company to be an instructor in the company school in San Antonio, TX. However, as part of the deal, he couldn’t leave Kansas City until he found a replacement. Me.

I impressed my interviewer. I lacked knowledge of digital computing but I did have more knowledge of basic electronics than many of the current field engineers of the company. By the end of lunch, I had a job offer, for the Kansas City area, at twice my salary of my job at the milling company.

I took it! My wife was five months pregnant and my salary of $600/mth was small compared with the cost of a growing family.

I had been coasting since leaving the Air Force. My job at the milling company was dead-end. It was a family owned business and all the higher positions were limited to family members or very close family friends. The new job had more opportunities and the potential for a much larger salary.

That pivot point changed our life. I became a field engineer. A few years later, I was second level support covering a four state territory. Not long after that, I was third level support for a seven state area and a regular visiting instructor in the company school teaching disk-drive maintenance, software design and programming and telecommunications.

I have no idea what our life would have been if I hadn’t accepted that invitation to lunch. I’ve lost touch with my Ham Radio friend. A decade later the computer company was bought by a financier who broke up company and sold the pieces.

That field engineering job eventually lead to position with Sprint that lasted until I retired as a Principle Network Design Engineer. While working at Sprint I was a programmer, manager, systems design enginer and finally a project manager. I acquired seven patents along the way.  All in all, it’s been a good life.

I wonder if I will meet Mike Rathbun again. I think I will.

Where have I been and what have I been doing?

Wow! No posts since November 11th. When I stopped posting five days a week over a year ago, I did not intend to let my blog slide off into history. I haven’t posted because I’ve been busy.

Busy? Doing what, you may ask. Writing fiction. I’ve had some small success.

It all started last June when I received an email from one of the editors of the Grantville Gazette. The Gazette buys fan-fiction based on the world of 1632 by Eric Flint. 1632 is available, free, from Baen’s Free Library. Scroll down on the 1632 website and you can download the book in your favorite e-book format.

Getting back to the event last summer…some ten to twelve years ago, I submitted a short story to the Gazette slush pile. I received some feedback, made changes, resubmitted the story to the 1632 slush, and waited…and waited…and waited until I decided it must have been so bad it wasn’t worth more attention.

The subject of the story arose again last May in the 1632 forum on Baen’s Bar, a subsection of the Baen website. I mentioned that I had submitted a story long ago on that subject and a few days later I received an email asking if I was still interested in selling the story to the Gazette.

Grantville Gazette #68 cover art

Of course, says I! I resubmitted, received some further feedback, made some changes, reviewed it to catch typos, missing punctuation and resubmitted it. The next thing I know, I received a notice, “Send me a .rtf.” The short story was accepted and appeared in the November, 2016, issue #68 of the Grantville Gazette. The title was, Greetings! I’ve included the link but it may be behind a paywall.

That sale was followed by a novelette, The Marshal comes to Suhl, that appeared in the Grantville Gazette #70 in March, 2017. A third sale of a novella, SMC, is appearing as a three-part serial starting in Gazette #71. SMC, Part 1, is up in the current edition of the Gazette. The second and third parts of SMC will appear in the July and September, 2017 issues.

So. Instead of continuing to write a political blog, I’ve been writing fiction. My ego has been kept under control by the submission of three other short stories that are still sitting in the slush-pile without a nibble.

I don’t…yes, I do mind, but they have been a good learning experience. I found that typos are insidious and no matter how many times you read and re-read your text, they will still escape your notice. I’ve learned the difference between ‘telling vs. showing,’ and to avoid the dreaded ‘white-room,’ or writing just pure dialog without any context.

I can’t post the stories here. I’ve sold the rights for five years. But, if you’re interested you can follow the links above and read them on-line. If they are behind a pay-wall, I strongly suggest you subscribe to the Gazette. You may get the writing bug, as have so many others. The Grantville Gazette pays professional rates. Who knows, maybe you too can be a published writer.


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.

Rally ‘Round the Flag, Boys!

I’m an Anglophile. I admit it. My father was born in the UK. My Grandfather was born in Scotland and my Grandmother was born in Ireland. I have a great fondness of the UK, Scotland, Ireland and the Celtic culture. However, I am not enthralled with the culture the UK socialists and EU elites are trying to build in Britain and elsewhere. A culture of servitude, fascism and parasitism.

I read the Brexit results this morning with a feeling that maybe—just maybe, the people of the UK has finally regained some backbone. They won the election to leave the EU. The next struggle is winning the battle to survive the economic and alien culture war that is still in progress.

The Brits should not feel that they face the future alone. Many here in the US believe that the UK will strengthen its political and economic ties with the US once Obama is out of office and is replaced with a rational President and Congress. I know, it’s a reach, but I try to be optimistic.

The EU is in a serious and precarious position. The UK is out and there are other EU members who have groups who want out, too. Britain is not alone in its desire to leave the supra-national organization, an organization that is nothing more than an overgovernment of socialist elites that has run amok. The EU has arrived at a point where they’ve run out of other people’s money and have nowhere else to turn.

The Brexit contagion: How France, Italy and the Netherlands now want their referendum too 



A woman carries an umbrella and a polling station sign at a polling station for the Referendum Credit: Reuters

Voters in France, Italy and the Netherlands are demanding their own votes on European Union membership and the euro, as the continent faces a “contagion” of referendums.

EU leaders fear a string of copycat polls could tear the organisation apart, as leaders come under pressure to emulate David Cameron and hold votes.

It came as German business leaders handed a considerable boost to the Leave campaign by saying it would be “very, very foolish” to deny the UK a free trade deal after Brexit.

Markus Kerber, the head of the BDI, which represents German industry, said that 1970s-style trade barriers would result in job losses in Germany.

“Imposing trade barriers, imposing protectionist measures between our two countries – or between the two political centres, the European Union on the one hand and the UK on the other – would be a very, very foolish thing in the 21st century.”

In Italy, the anti-establishment Five Star movement on Tuesday declared it would demand a referendum on the euro. The party wants the euro to be split – one for the rich north and one for the south. 

Beppe Grillo, the party’s leader, has called for a full referendum on EU membership. He said: “The mere fact that a country like Great Britain is holding a referendum on whether to leave the EU signals the failure of the European Union.”

Five Star won 19 out of 20 mayoral elections on Sunday, including in Rome and Turin, in a major blow to Matteo Renzi, the Prime Minister.

In France, Marine Le Pen, the Front National leader, last night called for France to have its own referendum on the “decaying” EU. “I would vote for Brexit, even if I think that France has a thousand more reasons to leave than the UK,” she said.

In the Netherlands, polls show a majority of voters want a referendum on membership, and voters are evenly split over whether to stay or go.

The question for the EU now is not how they may entice the UK back into its control. The question is how can it survive the groundswell of “exits” that will come from the remaining members.

Brexit is not just an isolated movement. There is one here in the US. No, it is not an issue of the US vs. the EU, it is the American people against the elitists in Washington and in the Red States. The rise of Donald Trump, a person who I personally detest, is one symptom of that movement against elitists of all strips. The difficulty we face is that the statists are not limited to the liberals and democrats in Washington, it is also the elites in the GOP at all levels.

The hope of many is that electing Donald Trump will create an electoral sweep that will remove or wealen those elitists. I hope they are correct. I fear they are not.

A column was just published on Rasmussen’s website that asks, “Is Trump Already A Third-Party Candidate?” Perhaps, perhaps not. The established political parties on both sides have become nothing more that two faces of the the same group—elitists who have colluded as a group to maintain personal political power. If the author of that article is correct, Donald Trump is not a third-party candidate, he is a second-party candidate. A truth that is becoming more apparent every day.

Four gun control bills were submitted recently in the Senate to abolish the 2nd Amendment rights for a class of people. Those people were ones whose names appear on a secret no-fly list. No one knows who nor how the list is maintained. No one will admit how a name may appear on the list (political enemies, perhaps?) And there is no way for a person to get his name removed from the list once it is on it. That list is a violation of the 5th and 14th Amendments of the US Constitution.

Two of those four bills were sponsored by ‘GOP Senators John Cornyn of Texas and Charles Grassley of Iowa. Apparently they don’t honor nor uphold the Constitution any more than democrats.



Not where I’d like to be…

I had plans for this weekend. In fact I had too many plans for this weekend. Three different plans in fact.


This weekend is the NRA’s Annual Meeting. I’m an Endowment Life member. My wife and I went to the NRA’s past meetings in Nashville and St. Louis. I met a number of internet friends who I had never before met face-to-face. I looked forward to seeing them again.

This weekend is also the Dayton Hamvention. The premier Hamfest in the nation. I’ve been a Ham radio operator since 1972, forty-four years. I had never been to Dayton and I wanted to go while I could.

The MO GOP State Convention is also this weekend in Branson, Missouri. I am a delegate. I had looked forward to voting for Cruz delegates. That was not to be.

In addition, my wife is a Professor at a local Bible College. Their graduation is this weekend with graduation practice and a dinner scheduled for this evening. She’s obligated to be there as one of the leading professors.

Obviously, triage is needed. First the MO GOP Convention is moot now that Cruz has suspended his campaign. I’ve no wish to be forced to vote for that vile, lying specimen of questionable humanity. The platform battle is a waste of time as well. I’ve never seen any of the platform proposals ever evolve into legislation.

I don’t fly. The TSA can kiss my…butt. If I can’t drive there, I’m not going. Louisville, the site of this year’s NRA convention, is a day’s drive. So is Dayton if I have an early enough start. Both start today. I could have made either if I had left KC yesterday.

Unfortunately, I had minor surgery yesterday. I had an infected cyst removed from my left shoulder leaving a golf ball sized hole in my back packed with material to help clean out the remaining infection and to promote healing.

I can’t change the bandage by myself and I can’t see asking a travel-mate to help with such a personal task if my wife can’t accompany me. She can’t.

So. I’m staying home. None of my earlier plans came to fruition. No NRA trip, No Hamvention visit. No GOP State convention.

And, to end a less than stellar week, my Samsung tablet quit unexpectedly yesterday. I had nearly 1,000 ebooks on it. Fortunately, I had backed up my photos and music on the tablet earlier this week. I have copies of my ebooks offline on another server. Nothing was really lost but it will be a pain to move everything to another tablet. I never realized how much I depended on that tablet until it quit.

I suppose it’s just as well I stayed home this weekend. My new tablet, another Samsung, arrives tomorrow. I know now what I’ll be doing all weekend.

The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men Gang aft agley.

Raucous Caucus – Cass County

Last Saturday was the local GOP caucus for Missouri. There was at least one caucus in each county; more than one caucus in some of the more heavily populated counties. Cass County has one of the larger delegations to the District Caucus later this month and to the state convention next month.

The lessons of this last weekend is: Do your homework and be prepared. In the end it was apparent across the state that the Cruziers did their homework and were prepared. The Followers of the Narcissist and others didn’t and weren’t.

I attended the last local caucus and was a delegate to the District Caucus and to the GOP State Convention in 2012. I reported on these experiences. This year, the caucuses (or is it caucii?) were more well behaved than in 2012.

The 2016 caucus was different than the one in 2012 due to a few but important rule changes. This year the slates presented to the caucii for the District Caucii and State Convention had to submitted in writing and must have been previously vetted, i.e., the people named on the slate must be known as “good Republicans” and have agreed to be a delegate.

One complication was that this year the MO State Central Committee allowed people to pre-register on the state website and people could click a check-box when registering. People wondered if that information had been relayed to the county central committees. It had, said Cass County Caucus Chairman Bill Kartsonis.

The Caucus began with the Pledge of Alliance and a Prayer. The Caucus Chairman and Secretary were elected. When it came time to present slates, one was submitted according to the rules. No other slates were ready for submission.

That’s when the caucus became raucous.

A vocal minority, and it was a distinct minority, raised questions and objections. They had NOT done their homework. Apparently they had assumed the rules for the 2016 caucus were the same as those in 2012. They complained the rules had not been made public! The disrupters continued with objections. It was apparent they weren’t interested in having their questions answered.

The rules had been made publics, at least a couple of months previously. I first read the rules from the MO GOP website as far back as February, if I remember the date correctly. The call to caucus had been made public for at least a month and more, weeks prior to the MO presidential primary in March, and links to the rules were disseminated via social networks and on a number of state GOP websites. The protesters’ lack of internet Google-fu was not the fault of, nor an issue for the GOP leadership.

In short, there were unprepared. They had no slate. Could not create a slate that did not includes names stolen from the first slate. The Rules stated that a name could only be submitted once. Names from one slate could not be included in an opposing slate.

Instead, the disrupters attempted to have the caucus modify the other state—not theirs since they didn’t have one but the slate created by local GOP activists called the Unity Slate. The disrupters wanted to remove some vetted names and to replace them with others, some of whom were not present nor vetted.

It reminded me of the Soros funded, Bernie Sanders followers who have disrupted rallies by Trump and Cruz. I call it attempted sabotage.

In the end, their attempts didn’t work. The sole slate that was submitted (full disclosure, my name and that of my wife were on both the Unity District and State slates) was voted upon and approved.

One strange thing I noted and I wondered if the reporter who was present observed the same, the names Cruz, Kasich, and Trump were never uttered by anyone during the entire caucus. In fact I only saw one of the three names appear. One woman wore a Trump t-shirt.

Compared to 2012, the Cass County 2016 caucus was a cake-walk. It happened because those who prepared the sole submitted slate read the rules, made preparations and were ready for the caucus. The others, who was led by a reportedly Ron Paul, libertarian activist, did not. Strangely, she did have some changes to be submitted to the state GOP platform. A few were approved. Why hadn’t she taken the same care to create and present a slate to the caucus? Perhaps that wasn’t her intent? Perhaps her intent was solely to be disruptive and attempt to have no slate submitted at all? Regardless of her intentions, she failed.

Planning and preparedness versus no planning and ignorance. That scenario is being played out across the country. In Colorado, the Cruz organization did their homework, were prepared, and walked off with all, or at least the large majority, of the Colorado delegates. That happened in Kansas, Maine, Wyoming, North Dakota and Wisconsin, plus some others, too. The Cruz organization is prepared. The Trump…whatever he calls his unorganized mob, isn’t.

The Followers of the Narcissist call those state wins made through planning and preparedness, corruption. They claim the delegates were stolen. The Follwers, like Trump, assume the country will blindly lead a bombastic, egotistical con man, and no planning nor preparation should be necessary.

It is significant that Trump has lost the last seven primaries/state caucus. Poor or no planning will never win over a well organized campaign. That is true in Missouri as well when the Followers of the Narcissist lost in a St Louis area caucus against a prepared and planned campaign by the Cruz organization.

Contrary to popular belief, these county caucus meetings select no delegates to the national GOP convention. They only select delegates to the District caucus and to the state convention. Three GOP national delegates will be selected in each congressional district. The remainder will be selected during the GOP state convention next month.

The Missouri Caucus process isn’t over. Just the first of three steps have been taken.

One interesting bit of information was announced early in the caucus. The Missouri Primary conducted last month still hasn’t been verified by the Missouri Secretary of State. At the last count, only 1200 votes separated Cruz from Trump. The delay is due to the arrival of overseas votes who have yet to be counted. If either Cruz or Trump had acquired 50% + 1 vote, the caucus would have been moot. All the delegates would have gone to the winner. However since neither acquired that 50% + 1 votes across the state, the delegates will be assigned proportionally via the three-tier caucus process—and there the preparedness and the Cruz organization will be significant.

To quote Yogi Berra, “It aint’t over ’til it’s over!”



The third party controversy has risen again. With the continuing slander by Trump against Cruz. Trump’s attack against Heidi Cruz. Would any of the ‘Pub candidates vow to support the party’s nominee. Trump said this week to a reporter if he would keep his promise not to run as a third-party candidate, he said no if he, in Trump’s opinion, was treated unfairly. Similrly, when asked whether they would support a Trump candidacy, Cruz and Kasich refused to answer. Trump has always threatened to run third party if the GOP didn’t roll over for him. It is easy to look forward and see if Trump, or Cruz for that matter, would run as a third party candidate.

The conventional wisdom is that it would be a repeat of Ross Perot’s run in the ’92 election. The Perot voters drew enough votes from the GOP to give Clinton the election.

With all the attention being given to Trump, Cruz and Kasich over a third-party run, the media is ignoring what is happening with the communist, uhh, democrat side of the slate. Bernie the Marxist, who has never held a job outside of government, is running neck-and-neck against Hillary in the vote count.

The DNC establishment rules gives the party the final choice on who will be their national candidate. Their establishment has decided that it is Hillary’s turn to run. They ignore the possibility that Hillary may be indicted before election day next Fall.

The deal between Obama and the Clintons appears to have ended.  Bill, in a speaking engagement this last week, said the last eight years were the worst in US history.  Chelsea, in a rally scantily attended, made similar remarks. In her speech, Chelsea attacked Obamacare and its rising costs.

No one has ever accused Obama of having a thick skin. These attacks by the Clinton will not go unnoticed. Nor will Obama let them slide by. Retribution, in some form, will be coming. It could be that Obama’s Justice Department will unlock the chains from the FBI and an indictment may be coming, sooner, rather than later.

The DNC has decided that Bernie will not be their candidate. One example occurred this week when the local dem establishment forgot to put Bernie’s name on the DC ballot.

The DNC has total control of the democrat convention. Their party delegates—those selected directly by the party rather than those selected through the primary/caucus method, give Hillary the DNC control of the convention. These party-controlled delegates are more than enough to control the outcome of the democrat convention.

Given that situation, is it not unlikely that Bernie may split from the dems and run as a socialist candidate? He certainly has the following and his Brownshirts could easily change their focus from Trump to Hillary.

The following scenario is, therefore, possible. Trump, amid the growing support for Cruz, decides to run as an independent. Bernie, realizing he cannot win the dem convention, splits and runs as a Marxist of some label.

Who would win?

Good question. Trump wouldn’t. A significant portion of his followers are democrats. Would they remain? Don’t think so.

Would Hillary win? With the loss of the communists socialists within the party, she would definitely be in the minority.

Could Bernie pull it off? Does Bernie have sufficient numbers of college-age idiots who are looking desperately for a bailout of their college loans? Unlikely.

That leaves Cruz. He is gaining on Trump in the polls and endorsements. Jeb has, reluctantly, endorsed Cruz. So has Mike Lee, Cruz’ Senate colleague and and long-time supporter, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, plus other big-name endorsements. Can the remaining GOP and conservatives form a coalition to win the election? Don’t know.

In the end, it could quite possibly be a civics lesson on the institution and purpose of the Electoral College.  The College Electors could be the deciding factor in an election as pivotal and controversial as that of 1860. And…the end of the US two-party system.