The Joys of taking a new shooter

13 Apr
April 13, 2012

I had the pleasure of taking an old friend out shooting for the first time. We went down to the range, explained the basics, and then let her play. I have to keep reminding myself not to over-explain everything. She liked my Sig 9mm and Ruger SP101. What she really liked was The Steve’s Kimber. All-in-all, we had a good time, and that’s really counts. That and she had an inch and a half group at seven yards.

Friday Quote – 4/13/12

13 Apr
April 13, 2012

Inveniam vaim aut faciam” – I shall find a way or make one.

My brother first came across this phrase when reading about Shackleton’s expedition to the Antarctic. Mr. Shackleton had this phrase carved into the wall near his hospital bed. According to the linked Wikipedia article, it’s been used by many others as a motto, which is how I use it. We are surrounded by people who will live in their little cocoons and never try to find a way to better themselves or in how they work. I’m a big believer in system improvement. What can I do to make my products easier to produce, better than others, etc.?

In terms of writing, that means I no longer have to just go the traditional route with the big publishing firms. There are new models, or I can make my own model. I shall find a way or make one.

Homeopathy – Magic Water, Magic Sugar

12 Apr
April 12, 2012

Most skeptics have a few real push-button issues. The ones whose practice absolutely infuriate us. For me, I have three: homeopathy, the anti-vaccine movement, and the 9/11 “Truthers”. Homeopathy and the anti-vax movement because I can see the body counts from them. The “Truthers” because their assertions degrade the heroism of the people involved and obscure the real lessons from the horrific day. I’ll discuss each of these at length in different blog posts. In this one, I’ll tackle homeopathy.

Many of the prominent science and skeptical blogs have done excellent takedowns of homeopathy. One that I like is Dr. Stephen Barrett’s in his Quackwatch blog. I would highly suggest reading his article. Here’s what I don’t think most people understand when it comes to homeopathy.  Borrowing from Dr. Barrett:

Homeopathic products are made from minerals, botanical substances, and several other sources. If the original substance is soluble, one part is diluted with either nine or ninety-nine parts of distilled water and/or alcohol and shaken vigorously (succussed); if insoluble, it is finely ground and pulverized in similar proportions with powdered lactose (milk sugar). One part of the diluted medicine is then further diluted, and the process is repeated until the desired concentration is reached. Dilutions of 1 to 10 are designated by the Roman numeral X (1X = 1/10, 3X = 1/1,000, 6X = 1/1,000,000). Similarly, dilutions of 1 to 100 are designated by the Roman numeral C (1C = 1/100, 3C = 1/1,000,000, and so on). Most remedies today range from 6X to 30X, but products of 30C or more are marketed.


A 30X dilution means that the original substance has been diluted 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times. Assuming that a cubic centimeter of water contains 15 drops, this number is greater than the number of drops of water that would fill a container more than 50 times the size of the Earth. Imagine placing a drop of red dye into such a container so that it disperses evenly. Homeopathy’s “law of infinitesimals” is the equivalent of saying that any drop of water subsequently removed from that container will possess an essence of redness. Robert L. Park, Ph.D., a prominent physicist who is executive director of The American Physical Society, has noted that since the least amount of a substance in a solution is one molecule, a 30C solution would have to have at least one molecule of the original substance dissolved in a minimum of 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 molecules of water. This would require a container more than 30,000,000,000 times the size of the Earth. Read more →

Signs my nephew may become an evil overlord

11 Apr
April 11, 2012

Since my nephew and niece were born, their parents and my group of friends have joked that one will become an evil overlord while the other will be the savior of humanity. This is probably due to the immense amount of fantasy we all read, but sometimes possible hints slip out. Or it could be because he’s almost seven.

Scene: Nephew and I are returning from a scout activity

Me: Let us go forth…..

Nephew: To a date with death!

It’s one of those times I’m not sure whether to be proud, terrified, or both.

Medicating with lead and gunpowder

10 Apr
April 10, 2012

I took today off because I was expecting to see my favorite band, Sabaton, down at the Brass Mug. Then I received an email informing me the concert was cancelled. There were entry visa problems with the new band members.

So, I decided since I have the day off to do something I’ve been meaning to do for a bit. Pull out my shotgun and take it down to the range for some practice. It’s the first time I’d played with my Mossberg since I installed the Blackhawk collapsible stock.

So I first tried it at seven yards with six shells of 2 ¾” buck.

That’s with me aiming roughly at the stomach area. Then I tried again with my last three shells at 15 yards.

I was aiming too high and got yelled at by the range master. I really need to take a shotgun class. On the bright side, if I’m shooting with the shotgun, it’ll most likely be in my house. Everything’s within 7 yards in my house.

Then I went on to my Diamondback DB9. The first time I fired this pistol, it jammed damn near every time. I even had a couple of times with a live round being “stove-piped.”

That was with Winchester white box and Magtech 115-grain JHP. The second time I took it out, I switched to Remington UMC and Hornady Critical Defense. The little pistol ate both loads up nicely. So today I figured I’d see what I could actually do with this pistol.

First attempt was at 3 yards with Remington UMC.

Not a bad group, but I was shooting a bit low. Then I tried at seven and fifteen yards.

I so need to take a class or two.

Today is my favorite part of Easter

09 Apr
April 9, 2012

For me, today is the best part of Easter.

“Wait,” you say, “Easter was yesterday.” Yep. And now, all the leftover candy is on sale. I do loves me the candy.


08 Apr
April 8, 2012

Welcome to the world of Derek Ward. This is where I let my imagination and my opinions run wild.

I am a writer of fiction. Urban fantasy, science-fiction, or whatever just happens to strike my fancy. Some of you may have come here because of my work on Zombie Strike with Kenn Blanchard.

Here is where you will find chapters of my novel Badmoon Rising. It’s best to start at the beginning. Other denizens of my imagination will also crop up on occasion.

I am also a bit opinionated. For the low, low cost of nothing, you will also get to see my opinions on current events, guns, science, skepticism, atheism, and whatever else I think is cool. Feel free to leave comments. Usual rules of civility apply. Trolls will be hunted down, destroyed, their heads put on pikes, and their skins used to make my war drums. Or I’ll just block you. Whatever I’m in the mood to do.

Badmoon Rising – Chapter Six: All’s Fair In War

07 Apr
April 7, 2012 After the Rite of Discovery, I didn’t hear from the Guildmaster. What was worse, I didn’t hear anything from Bradon. According to what I was hearing from other hunters the vampires were laying low. They knew the lycanthropes were out for vengeance. The Bleeders were warning the other leeches to stay in their territory and do nothing to provoke the lycanthropes. Without any jobs coming my way, I busied myself going through my gear. My instincts were telling me that I was going to need everything in optimum condition. Hours were needed to go through the mass of electronics, climbing rigs, weapons, and other items I used in the course of my work. My last tasks were cleaning my primary weapons. With my hands grimy with lubricant, the phone rang. I cursed as I hastily wiped my hands on my t-shirt and picked up the receiver without checking the number. “Marcus, what are you doing right now?” the Guildmaster asked. I could tell by the sound of his voice something was wrong. “Putting my Commando back together,” I replied, nonchalantly, “What’s up?” “The coronation is being held early. The day after tomorrow,” the Guildmaster answered flatly. Read more →

Badmoon Rising – Chapter Five: Rites and Sidekicks

04 Feb
February 4, 2012 The morning after my meeting with Bradon I was back in the Guildmaster’s office. There was precious little new information since the meeting with the heads of the Guild. It looked like the Guildmaster had been waiting in his office for any of the precious nuggets. His normal meticulous appearance was even more haggard than the last time I’d seen him. I was worried that my boss was driving himself too hard. Usually, the Guildmaster’s personal hitter was a close friend and could talk to him when the personal hitter thought the Guildmaster was acting poorly. This was one of the times that my mentor-student relationship instead of the more normal relationship hampered some of my duties. Maybe I needed to talk to his wife. Maybe she could do something about the Guildmaster wrecking himself. Read more →

Badmoon Rising – Chapter Four: Head Shots are Always a Bitch

17 Dec
December 17, 2011 Vollen’s rodeo parties were held at an old warehouse in Thonotssassa, a small town/suburb of Tampa near the Florida State Fairgrounds.  Vollen purchased the warehouse a couple of years before and turned it into a full rodeo ring, complete with chutes, bleachers, and scoreboard. What resulted was the only full-time indoor rodeo ring in Hillsborough County. Vollen used it exclusively for his “rodeo parties.” The aristocracy was expected to host some form of social event, usually every couple of months or so. They allowed the pack leaders to meet with one another in a setting that were supposed to be free of politics. So, of course, the parties were almost all politics, just the quiet sort. The parties gave Vollen a chance to touch base with his supporters and to see where the pack leaders stood on the issues of the day. More importantly, to most of the county’s lycanthropes, these kinds of parties gave Vollen a chance to enjoy his latest hobby. Most of the lycanthropes of the county were just happy to see their lord enjoying himself with something since the death of his wife several years ago; enough so that they were willing to subject themselves to the humiliation of trying their hand at rodeo.  The rural packs could handle the events just fine, but most of the packs were from urban and suburban areas. If lycanthropes didn’t heal so quickly, some of the attendees would have been killed. For this night at least, Vollen imported a demonstration team instead of the normal fun and games. I really didn’t want to watch the pack leaders play cowboys and cowgirls. Read more →