Monthly Archives: September 2014

Legislator Missing in Action



UPDATE (Oct. 13):  After my letter to the editor detailing this incident appeared in the Roseville-Little Canada Review newspaper,  I did get a phone call from Rep. Hausman. I wasn’t home, but she left a message on my answering machine, and I followed up by e-mail. She told me that she hadn’t received my three letters. At first, she was under the impression that I had sent them by e-mail or left a voicemail. I explained that I had sent them by “snail mail” to her campaign address as listed on the Campaign Finance Board website.  I had sent them to the Commonwealth Avenue address listed on that site.

In a follow-up e-mail, she thanked me for the information, and told me that the Commonwealth address was that of her former campaign treasurer. She said that the former treasurer had become too busy and “we had to change treasurers.” She also stated that the information had been corrected with the campaign finance office. This explanation seems plausible, since the Campaign Finance Board site lists the new treasurer’s name, with a different address. But for the campaign’s main address, it continues to list the old treasurer’s home address, presumably in error.

A check of the campaign finance reports shows that the treasurer changed sometime in 2014. A report filed on January 29, 2014,  shows the old treasurer’s name and the old address. A report filed on July 28, 2014, shows the new treasurer’s name and the new address.

So this is quite possibly a case of an innocent mistake at the Campaign Finance Board. And I can tell you from experience that the job of campaign treasurer is both thankless and involves a lot of work.

But it still seems troubling to me that the outgoing treasurer apparently didn’t see the importance of forwarding to his candidate three pieces of first-class U.S. Mail. The address on the Campaign Finance Board website, even if it’s wrong, is still the one they have in their records, and important mail presumably gets sent to that address. And even if they did so incorrectly, the state published that address as being that of the candidate’s committee. At the very least, this episode represents a serious lapse in responsibility on the part of the campaign, one that kept Rep. Hausman insulated from her constituents.

I do appreciate the fact that Rep. Hausman took the time to call me and follow up. And I’m sure she’ll be on the phone tomorrow morning to the Campaign Finance Board to correct the error on their website. But I still think this reflects poorly on how she relates to her constituents.

I believe that local politicians should be accountable to their communities and be willing to listen to their constituents’ concerns.  Unfortunately, I don’t believe that Rep. Alice Hausman shares that value.

This afternoon, my wife and I hosted an ice cream social to give our friends and neighbors the opportunity to meet both candidates for this November’s legislative race, Rep. Hausman and her challenger, retired educator Jon Heyer.  I previously posted an invitation on this blog and on my law office website, and I thank those of you who were able to attend.

Both candidates were given flexibility with regard to scheduling the event.  We mailed a letter to each of the candidates in which we proposed four possible dates.  We included a postage-paid reply postcard and asked the candidates to return the card if one of the dates did not work for them.  We also included our phone number and e-mail address.  Jon Heyer returned the postcard indicating that he was unavailable one of those dates.  We received no response from Rep. Hausman.

We then scheduled the event, and mailed an invitation to each of the candidates.  We even sent a third letter reminding them of the date, and offering each of them the opportunity to bring a campaign sign, and to distribute any campaign literature.  All of the letters we sent to both candidates were addressed to their campaign committee addresses as listed on the website of the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board.

Jon Heyer meeting with voters.

Jon Heyer (right) meeting with voters.

We were pleased to have Jon Heyer attend and speak to our friends and neighbors.  Even though many of those people were Alice Hausman supporters, they now know that if Jon Heyer is elected, they will have a representative who is willing to listen to their concerns.

Unfortunately, if Representative Hausman is re-elected, her constituents will not have the same opportunity.  She did not attend the event, nor did she tell us that she was unable to do so.  She didn’t even supply any campaign literature.  I took it upon myself to print out her website, and this was the only contact she had with her constituents.

This is not the first time that Representative Hausman has failed to respond to constituent concerns.  In March, I sent her an e-mail with my thoughts concerning the proposed constitutional amendment regarding judicial elections.  As an attorney, I believed that I could provide some insight into the measure.  I previously wrote about that subject on this blog, and I think I raised an important point that had been overlooked by both sides in that debate. It is quite possible that Rep. Hausman disagreed with my views, but I will never know for sure.  I never received any response whatsoever to my e-mail.

Representative Hausman has served in the Legislature for a quarter century.  It could be argued that she has already done her share of meeting with grassroots voters over long legislative career.  Unfortunately, however, most of her service in the Legislature has been in a district that is very different from the one she now represents.  For her first 23 years in the Legislature, she represented a district covering St. Paul.  But after 2012 redistricting, she now represents Roseville, Falcon Heights, and Lauderdale, along with the tiny sliver of St. Paul in which she and I happen to reside.  Her district is now very different from what it was for the first 23 years of her service.  If she wishes to represent her new very different district, then she needs to make a conscious effort to listen to the concerns of her new constituents.  She has shown me twice that she is not willing to do that.

Jon Heyer also lives in St. Paul, but he grew up in Roseville.  And more importantly, he has shown that he is willing to take the time to meet with constituents, whether they live in Roseville, Falcon Heights, Lauderdale, or St. Paul.  He has earned my vote, and that of many of my neighbors.


Army Signal Corps Field Buzzer, 1916

U.S. Army Signal Corps Field Buzzer.  Technical Equipment of the Signal Corps: 1916.

U.S. Army Signal Corps Field Buzzer. Technical Equipment of the Signal Corps: 1916.

A hundred years ago today (September 21, 1914), the Calumet (Mich.) News carried an article entitled, “Communication Big Factor in Modern War Machinery,” which explained the technological developments in communications in use in modern warfare. The article runs down the developments in telegraph, telephone, and wireless in use in the war.

One that caught my attention was a rather ingenious telephone-telegraph that was used in situations where the lines were in poor shape. As the article points out, lines near the battlefield “are often laid at high speed, are of high resistance and are frequently leaky.” In those cases, it described a “special instrument known as the buzzer.”

It describes the instrument as a metal-lined leather case with a dry battery, induction coil and interrupter, key, telephone transmitter, and telephone receiver. It could be used as a field telephone, or by use of the buzzer, the key could send out an intermittent current which would traverse the line where the distant receiver would give out a sharp note. Thus, the telephone could be used to send Morse code via audio.

It notes that these “Morse signals are audible over an incredibly bad line.” It cites one case where a signal was successfully sent over bare wires lying on wet ground.

The schematic of the instrument is shown here:

The field buzzer itself is shown above as it would be carried, and it is shown dismantled here:

This diagram of a typical hookup of the buzzer shows its use with a line of dubious quality:



Camp Telephone for the Army, Telegraph and Telephone Age, July 1, 1917, page 302.


Free Ice Cream Social!

If you live in Minnesota house district 66A (Falcon Heights, Lauderdale, most of Roseville, and parts of St. Paul), you are invited to attend an ice cream social to meet both candidates for this November’s election.  Rep. Alice Hausman and Mr. Jon Heyer are both expected to attend.  For more details, click here.  It’s Saturday, September 20 at 2-4 PM.

Battle of Mons, 1914


This dramatic illustration, apparently a photograph, appeared in the Washington Times a hundred years ago today, September 20, 1914.

The picture was probably taken on August 23 at the Battle of Mons, Belgium. While the Germans ultimately forced a British retreat, the suffered heavy losses as they attempted to cross the Mons-Conde canal on pontoon bridges.  The ultimately successful Germans suffered over 5000 casualties, while the British defenders suffered 1638.

Acting Bears Come to Indy, 1864.


150 years ago today, Hoosiers were undoubtedly excited by the soon to arrive circus. But this wasn’t just any circus. The acting bears depicted here (realistically, no doubt) were but one of the many attractions to be featured at what was billed as “positively the largest exhibition of the amusement world,” The Monster Equescurriculum! It was going to be an immense and unparalleled combination, heralded here in the September 19, 1864, edition of the Indianapolis Daily State Sentinel.

The bears shown here were “Old Grizzly Adams’ Troupe of Acting Bears, from California.”  Adams himself, it would appear, wasn’t traveling with the bears, since he died in 1860 from a succession if injuries caused by the bears (and in one case, a monkey).  The bear depicted on the California state flag is apparently one of Adams’ bears.  It is not known whether that bear was one of the bears to visit Indiana, although the bear wearing a top hat bears a strong resemblance to the one on the flag.

But according to the announcement, since the combination of acts is such as had never before been attempted by private enterprise, it gave notice that the management will be “pardoned for directing attention to the fact that this magnificent phalanx of exhibitions not only combines and infinitely greater degree of novelty, variety and effect within itself than can be found in any other place of amusement in the world, but also a nearer approach to perfection in every detail.” It also notes that the performance entailed such an enormous expenditure of money that only the most liberal patronage could render it remunerative.

Admission for one of the four performances was fifty cents, 25 cents for children under 12.


1939 British Gasproofed Room


Seventy-five years ago today, September 18, 1939, Life Magazine carried this illustration from the British Home Office showing a basement room equipped and gasproofed. The caption notes that if the occupants remain quiet, there will be enough oxygen in the sealed room to accommodate five persons for twelve hours.

Presumably, the gramophone is to keep you entertained between bulletins from the wireless.

Allied Radio Newspaper Ad, 1964


We didn’t have an Allied Radio store in my neighborhood, but they were still big in 1964, as evidenced by this full-page newspaper ad fifty years ago today, in the Milwaukee Journal, September 17, 1964.

Having good stereo gear was a rather expensive proposition. A turntable, amplifier, and speakers would set you back $129. A set including an AM-FM stereo receiver was $199. A twelve-inch black and white TV was $99.

A 3-1/4″ reel-to-reel tape recorder was available for only $9.99 (limit one to a customer). For the serious audiophile, a stereo tape deck was $169. Transistor radios started for $4.44. The nine-volt batteries for that radio were six for 99 cents, and flashlight batteries were nine cents each, but both limit 6 per customer.

While those prices appear modest, 1964 was the last year that that money was made out of real silver. By comparison, other ads in the same issue show that you could buy a case of beer for $1.79. At the Walgreen’s lunch counter, you could get a turkey dinner for 65 cents. Tires for your car started at $5.99. And at the supermarket, chuck roast was 45 cents a pound, carrots and bananas were a dime a pound, and five pounds of flour was 42 cents.

One would think that very few products made by Gonset showed up in normal commercial newspaper advertising, but this is a case where one did.  The ad shows the Gonset G-15 CB transceiver, normally $199.95, on sale for $99.  The 10-tube radio had four crystal-controlled channels, and its receiver tuned all 23 channels.  It operated on either 120 volts AC, or 6 or 12 volts DC with its built-in vibrator power supply. To Visit Moon


The location of our latest expansion. (NASA photo.)

The location of our latest expansion. (NASA photo.) will soon have a lunar presence. On October 23, the 14 kilogram 4M-LXS spacecraft will be launched from China. The spacecraft was developed by LUXspace in Luxembourg and has now been transported to the Xichang Satellite Launch Center.   About eight days after launch, it will pass within between 7440 and 14,480 miles of the moon, depending on the final orbital injection vector. At this point, the craft will be approximately 248,000 miles from Earth.

One of the partners in the mission is the International Amateur Radio Union, and the spacecraft will be transmitting digital data throughout its mission, including during its lunar orbit phase. The transmissions will take place on 145.990 MHz using JT65B mode. The transmitter power will be 1.5 watts to a quarter-wave monopole antenna. Transmissions will begin about 77 minutes after launch. When the spacecraft is in the vicinity of the moon, the signal-to-noise ratio will be comparable to that of Earth-Moon-Earth communications (EME) signals routinely copied by hams, and thousands of amateurs equipped for EME should be able to decode the digital signals.

LUXspace made available a limited number of slots for 13-character messages to be sent from the moon. And one of those messages will be the URL for our parent website:  On that page, we have a direct link to  (The direct URL for this site would have exceeded the 13-character limit.)

Only a limited number of messages can be sent, but there might still be available slots. You can upload your message at the 4M-LXS website. To steer your antenna to receive the signal, azimuth and elevaton tracking data for throughout the mission is also available.

More information is also available at the ARRL website.

Operation Washtub: Stay-Behind Agents After Soviet Invasion of Alaska

1954 letter seeking background on Valdez, Alaska, amateur radio operator.

1954 letter seeking background on Valdez, Alaska, amateur radio operator.

A recent batch of documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by paints a fascinating picture of U.S. Government plans to deal with the possibility of a Soviet invasion of Alaska in the 1950’s. The 701 pages of formerly secret documents are available at this link.

The program, code named Operation Washtub, was put into place, and agents were trained as detailed in many of the documents. The plan was to have in place “stay-behind” agents who would be recruited and trained in peacetime and paid a stipend of $3000 per year to remain on standby. At such time as Alaska fell to Soviet invaders, they would provide intelligence, engage in covert activities, and aid downed U.S. airmen.

Rather extensive equipment was assigned to the agents, including a “Gibson-Girl” type radio transmitter-receiver.

Interestingly, one potential agent was an Amateur Radio operator. It appears that the author was referring to a particular individual, although there doesn’t seem to be any indication that this particular individual was ever recruited. But he does seem like a quintisential resident of the last frontier:

An example of a typical person to be one of the principals is a professional photographer in Anchorage; he has only one arm and it is felt that he would not benefit the enemy in any labor battalion; he is an amateur radio operator; he is a professional photographer; he is licensed as a hunting or fishing guide, and well versed in the art of survival; he is a pilot of a small aircraft; he is reasonably intelligent, particularly crafty, and possessed of sufficient physical courage as is indicated by his offer to guide a party which was to have hunted Kodiak bear armed only with bow and arrow. If such an individual were chosen it is believed that he would be eminently satisfactory as a principal.

A one-armed ham is one thing, but this one was apparently proficient with archery!

At least one ham was, however, recruited. The last page of the 701 pages of FOIA documents are the request for a background check of the manager of a Valdez hotel. His name is redacted in the document (probably because he was born after about 1914 and might be a living person), but the document does alert the FBI that this person is a Ham radio operator.

Surely there weren’t very many one-armed Anchorage photographers who were also hams and archers. And surely there weren’t very many hotel managers in Valdez who were hams. It would be interesting to follow up on these gentlemen and learn more about their role in the Cold War. If you have any information as to their identities, I’d appreciate hearing from you.