Page 2 of 152

Random Thoughts Part 735

We picked up some Mountain Dew Zero. I like it, at least as much as Diet Mountain Dew. Even better, this is a zero calorie as compared to Diet Dew’s low calorie. But Derek, Diet Dew is only 5 calories per 20 oz. Yeah, but with the quantities I drink on a regular basis, that adds up quick. DON’T JUDGE ME.

I’ve finished listening to the new book The End Is Always Near by Dan Carlin (of Hardcore History fame). How to describe it?

–Never listened to Hardcore History: How are we still alive? –Listens to episodes once, when they come out: How are we still alive? –Listens to episodes repeatedly: Oh, this again?

I still recommend his Hardcore History podcast.

Even after being together for better than two-and-a-half years, and being married for almost a year, it still amazes me how loud my wife’s family gets, and how quickly the volume ramps up. For them, that’s normal. For my family, that volume level is akin to a cobra showing its hood. One last ditch attempt to scare off someone before violence happens.

After almost two decades, I now have a subscription to the local paper. Sunday only. Mostly, it was coupons. Part of it is I’m leaning more to paying for content.

Unpossible!

A felon gets a visit from the local deputies over threatening statements. Then, he told them something interesting.

  • The man showed deputies hazardous materials in a self-proclaimed powder room.*

  • Hazmat and the bomb squad collected suspicious chemicals, many of which were precursors for making explosives. About 2-3 pounds of homemade TATP, a highly sensitive organic peroxide explosive, was also found. The TATP was safely detonated at an east Manatee County gun range that night.*

Please tell me how all the laws surrounding felons from procuring explosives were effective.

Monday Fiction – Zombie Strike – Part One – Chapter Four

Fifty Miles Off of Target Island, 200 Miles West of Hawaii, 1830 hours Local, 24 July 2009, Countdown: 2 years, 5 months, 1 week

Sissy O’Connell watched the gorgeous Pacific sunset from the stern of the converted cargo ship. She regretted leaving her long blonde hair down and loose. The downwash from the helicopters kept sweeping it into her eyes. Still, the view was worth the hassle. The orange sun melted into the blue waters highlighted by a sky lit with reds and purples. It was more beautiful than any of the paintings Sissy adored. She watched with constant fascination as the sun slowly dropped under the horizon, and then a bit longer until the natural light was replaced by the blazing white of the lights on the flight deck. The time gave Sissy a chance to get herself centered.

Sissy left the flight deck and made her way down to her team’s rooms. They were two levels below the flight deck and separated from the ship’s crew and M&W’s security people. Sissy was still amazed an insurance company owned and operated its own helicarrier. Mr. Brown, the bespectacled liaison from M&W, mentioned something about the ship being a prototype for the British Navy to convert cargo ships to Harrier carriers during the height of the Cold War. Considering Sissy had been five years old when the Iron Curtain fell, that historical fact meant absolutely nothing to her. What did matter to her was that the technological improvements M&W put into their private warship meant the vessel didn’t need much in the way of crew, and gave the team an inordinate amount of privacy. Sissy was relieved as she finally descended into the empty corridor. She was getting tired of the stares from the sailors.

Her room was the first on the left from the – ladder? Stairs? Ships were so bizarre. Opposite of her room, Sissy heard a pitiful moan from Quentin’s cabin. The former rough and tumble football player was laid low by seasickness. Dramamine didn’t do a thing for Quentin, and the team medic wouldn’t give him anything stronger. Sissy admired Quentin’s grit as he joined the team for exercise and weapons training every morning – even when he looked like death warmed over. Sissy decided to check back on Quentin after she was done with her other teammates. He needed the most attention at the moment.

“Hey Matt,” Sissy said, gently rapping on the open door, “Everything going okay?” Mateo spun in his chair. He clenched the papers in his hand in a death grip as he looked at Sissy. His eyes darted all over his room.

”Um, yeah. I’m just – I’m just getting the final bit of the planning finished,” Mateo half-stammered. His twitching shoulders telegraphed his unease. Sissy stifled the sigh before it escaped her lips. During exercises, Mateo was completely different. He was never uneasy or had any trouble speaking to her. The times when the team wasn’t training, like now, he just looked like he was trying to escape from her. She didn’t know what it was about her that made Mateo so uncomfortable, but she figured she’d try one more time tonight to pull him out.

“Okay,” Sissy said warmly, “Don’t stay up too late. Early morning. Could be a long day.”

“Uh, yeah,” Mateo said, staring at the papers in his hand, “Thanks.” She grimaced as Mateo whirled back to his work.

“Don’t worry too much about him,” whispered a voice behind her. Sissy jumped in surprise, and then whirled on a smiling Steve “The Steve” Mountain. How did he always manage to do that? Frustrated and angry, she punched the smiling medic in the chest.

“Idiot.”

“Relax chica,” The Steve said, ignoring the punch and the insult with his characteristic smile, “The Steve understands the boss man. The Steve sees the signs. Let The Steve handle this.” Sissy looked into The Steve’s brown eyes. There was a steady dedication behind the normally laughing eyes. The Steve may be a bit touched in the head, but he was dedicated to healing the physical and emotional wounds of his teammates.

“Well I guess I better check on Collin and Jack then,” Sissy said.

“Don’t bother,” The Steve said, “Collin racked out fast. That whole grab-sleep-when-you-can thing. Jack’s in one of his bad moods, so The Steve locked him in his cabin until the morning brief.” Sissy nodded in tired resignation. She didn’t even want to contemplate Jack walking around the ship in one of his dark moods. Someone was bound to wind up hurt – or dead.

“Listen, get some rack time. You’re worrying too much,” The Steve said with as much sincerity as the medic could muster. Sissy turned back to her room as The Steve went to his own room. She changed out of her fatigues into a comfortably over-large T-shirt and pajama bottoms. Sissy looked at herself in the small mirror of the room. She finally admitted it. She was terrified. She couldn’t hide from it anymore by taking care of the others. Sissy was scared. Scared that she would die, or she would make a mistake and one of her teammates would die. They reminded her so much of her brothers.

No, she admitted to herself, her fear wasn’t that simple. She knew where her fear came from, but she just couldn’t face it. Sissy snatched Frederick off the bed. The stuffed toy monkey usually chased away the fear. Not this time. As she clutched at Frederick, her eyes fell on the long black case. Her rifle case. Her father’s deep, warm voice filled her ears and heart. Don’t worry Little Bit, everything’s going to be all right. The fear was finally banished for the night. Sissy gently placed Frederick back on the bed. She put on her slippers. Quentin still needed some looking after before the morning meeting.

Fifty Miles Off of Target Island, 200 Miles West of Hawaii, 0630 hours Local, 24 July 2009, Countdown: 2 years, 5 months, 6 days

Sissy watched the water as the helicopter sped towards the target. The island didn’t even have a name, just a long alphanumeric designation Sissy couldn’t remember. The mission was simple. Land and disembark, set up base camp, and then eradicate every zombie on the island. She smiled as she remembered Mateo’s words from the morning meeting.

“Now we all know the saying’s easy. The doing’s going to be a mite bit harder,” Mateo told the group. Sissy didn’t know where that southern accent came from, but it relieved a little of the tension of the team. Sissy closed her eyes and tried to keep calm as the helicopter neared the island.

The distinct buzzsaw sound of miniguns signaled the descent to the island. Two escort gunship helicopters provided a distraction to cover the team’s insertion. Zombies were attracted by loud sounds, and the sound of two helicopters spraying thousands of 7.62mm NATO into the jungle was a very loud sound. Hopefully, it was loud enough to cover the sound of a single helicopter dropping off six people.

The helicopter made an easy descent. Sissy barely noticed the helicopter touching the grassy ground. Collin and The Steve were the first off. The two former military men jumped out of the helicopter with an easy grace. They were already thirty feet from the helicopter with their weapons up and searching before Sissy and Jack were ushered off by the hurried crew chief. Sissy hit the deceptively hard ground, barely remembering to move away from the helicopter. She moved as fast as she could while crouched, keeping the little H&K MP7 submachine gun braced. The roar of the helicopter’s engine meant Mateo and Quentin were off as well. She felt the intense downwash as the helicopter lifted back into the sky.

“Okay team, huddle up,” Mateo said. Mateo held a green plastic device, about the size of a hardcover book. A large screen dominated the top of the device. A map of the island appeared. Their current position on the south end of the island was designated as “Landing Zone One.” The island was roughly circular and was maybe a mile at its widest point. There was a dense jungle in the center of the island with a band of tall grasslands and smaller sprouts of jungle between the center and the beaches.

“Latest intel has most of the zombies still on the north end of the island,” Mateo said, pointing to the grassy area with a small growth of jungle, “Numbers still estimated at a few hundred.”

“Do you believe that?” Jack asked, sarcastically.

“I’m willing to use that as the low figure,” Mateo answered. He took a moment to look at the time display on the device. “We’ve got about nine hours of daylight. Collin, I want you and Sissy to clear the immediate area while the rest of us set up base camp.” Jack scowled and Quentin made a playful groan as the two walked over to the large metal boxes dropped off the helicopter with them. The Steve smiled as he strode behind the two.

“Well lass, let’s get this done,” Collin said, hefting his MP5/10. Sissy folded up and holstered the MP7 and removed her beloved “Danny-Boy” from its protective bag. Sissy worked the bolt and felt the welcome sound of the .338 Lapua round feeding into the chamber. The two strode away from the others. For Sissy, the stride was a familiar hunting walk. The two quietly walked about fifty yards from where the others were erecting the base camp. The edge of the jungle was another hundred yards off. Strange sounds emanated from the darkened forest that stirred up the terror from the previous night. Sissy gripped her rifle closer.

There was a blur of motion from the jungle. She spun to bring the rifle at the dark shape. It was indistinct, but humanoid. The scope did nothing to resolve the form as she brought her rifle to her shoulder in a single fluid motion. Sissy took a quick breath and let it out as she gently squeezed the trigger.

[Zombie Strike Part One Chapter Five]

Friday Quote – Fred Rogers

Love doesn’t mean a state of perfect caring. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now – and to go on caring through the joyful times and through the times that may bring us pain.

My Email To My House Rep

Representative Gregory,

I am concerned about the rash of gun control legislation introduced this year and working its way through the legislature. Most of these bills are designed to make it harder for the citizens to purchase, own, carry, and use the firearms they have decided best suit their needs. These needs include hunting, recreation, and perhaps the most important of all, protection of themselves and their loved ones. As a member of the judiciary committee, I urge you to help stop these bills.

HB 117 – Mental Health Evaluation to Carry – This creates an undue financial and time burden on those who can least afford it. Moreover, these are the people who are often in most need of licenses to carry concealed.

HB 245 – Child Care Facilities to Become Gun Free Zones – If we have learned anything over the past decade, it’s that gun free zones do not prevent guns from coming in. Only who will be possessing the guns. Expanding what facilities are required to be “gun free” will not expand safety, but only expand the number of people left defenseless.

HB 289 – Background Checks to Buy Ammunition – This also creates an undue burden on those who can least afford it, and those who are often in need of purchasing ammunition. Further, as the experiment in California has shown, it causes undue delay in people being to acquire ammunition. Further, the users have already been through a background check to purchase the firearm.

HB 311 – Threats – This is a poorly drafted bill that will unnecessarily ensnare people who are involved in the most common of defensive gun uses where the defender brandishes, but does not fire the weapon. This would be a potent weapon in the arsenal of unscrupulous prosecutors.

HB 451 – Universal Background Checks – This is a bad bill because it does not define transfer as a sale, but merely possession. Hence, if I were to loan my pistol to a friend during a shooting session, we are both in violation of the law. Further, almost all guns sold in the state of Florida are done through licensed dealers which already require a background check. Finally, the only way this will work would be a state-wide registration of guns to monitor transfers. History has proven over and over again that registration is the first step to confiscation.

HB 627 – Banning all Assault Weapons and Large Capacity Magazines – Simply put, this would ban most of the firearms the citizens of Florida use for their defense. The definitions of Assault Weapons are so broad, that they fit most of the common weapons used for protection. The features the law bans are the same features that make it easier for a person of lesser strength or ability (women and the disabled) to use them for protection.

HB 809 – This increases the costs for renewing concealed carry licenses by reducing the renewal from seven to five years, and requiring a costly eight hour class each time the license is renewed. Again, this is a burden for those who can least afford and often most need these licenses. Further, over thirty years of data on Florida license holders show them to be more law abiding than even the police. Adding to their burdens does not somehow make them more safer.

HB 6009 – Removing State Preemption – This is a needlessly dangerous bill that would make Florida a patchwork of varying gun laws, and would ensnare people in local felonies for the simple act of crossing an invisible line. There are 67 counties in Florida and hundreds of municipalities. It would be impossible for the average citizen to be aware of all of the laws.that would explode if this bill became law.

HB 6049 – Elimination of Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground – This removes a critical protection for those who are defending their lives against a criminal, whether in their home or out in public. This would require them to know, in a life-and-death moment, if there is a safe way to flee. Even in their own homes. Even if they are with loved ones who can’t. This would be another tool for unscrupulous prosecutors to use against people who were simply defending themselves.

I hope this helps you and your staff understand why these bills are of such concern to myself and the thousands of gun owners in your district.

Sincerely,

Derek Ward

Thanks to Miguel for his list of bills, as well as everything else he does.

Weight Loss Check In

Over the weekend, I hit a milestone. I reached 1,000 days of tracking what I eat. I will admit, some days are more accurate than others. I do my best, but it’s difficult on bye-weeks to make sure I’m logging everything.

So, where am I at? My goal is to maintain 200 lbs. At last check-in, I was around 205. I’ve been struggling with losing the weight I gained from the holiday celebrations.

I’m also feeling a bit of fatigue. I know this intellectually, and there are days when I start wondering what the damage would be for me to just let loose. Then, I have to remember why I did this. I write this not to gain sympathy. I write this for anyone in my admittedly small audience who is feeling the same struggle. I think this is normal, and it can be overcome.

I am going to keep working to get back to 200. I am going to have setbacks, but I can’t accept them as anything other than temporary setbacks.

Metal Tuesday – Babymetal – Oh! Majinai

Let’s see. I love Babymetal. I love Sabaton. I love Alestorm. Let’s take the lead singer of Sabaton, have him on a Babymetal song. And just for fun, make it sound like an Alestorm song.

Monday Fiction – Zombie Strike – Part One – Chapter Three

Skull Island, Southern Pacific – 2000 hours Local – 14 July 2009 – Countdown: 2 years, 5 months, 2 weeks

Collin DuBois looked at the other two men in the small office. Kenn Blanchard’s ready room was located just off of Skull Island’s command center. Twelve large plasma screens beamed views from all over the island. Kenn was dressed in black fatigues and sitting behind a metal desk. Smoke from a burning Monte Cristo swirled around the infamous “Black Man With A Gun,” giving Kenn a mysterious visage. Mateo, Collin’s team leader, was slumped in a leather chair with a distinct air of self-recrimination. Mateo loosely held a glowing Cusano cigar, but he hadn’t taken more than a few puffs. Mateo’s normally tan skin was pale. Collin didn’t understand the American fascination with cigars. Instead he was nursing a tumbler of a very good Glenfiddich scotch. The former SAS soldier stood with a relaxed ease as he studied one of the plasmas.

“So what happened?” Kenn asked Mateo. Kenn didn’t glower in anger as he asked, but gave Mateo a look of concern.

“Jack just lost it during the fight,” Mateo said flatly, “I can’t figure out how I missed it. I mean Jack was loud and mean to everyone but Sissy on the training ranges, but he always did what we needed him to do. I just chalked it up to his resentment of being forced to come back to Skull Island. I never thought he had a death wish.” Mateo took another puff on his cigar, but didn’t seem to enjoy it.

“He doesn’t Matty, so quit being so rough on yourself,” Collin answered, his normal London cockney replaced with the crisp King’s accent, “Mr. Blanchard, would you be so kind as to replay Jack’s actions this morning, sir?” Kenn tapped on the keyboard, and the three watched the replay of the fight with the zombies. Kenn paused it after Jack was dragged back to the line.

“I must admit Collin, Jack’s sure acting like he’s trying to get himself killed,” Kenn commented.

“Really?” Collin asked, with a soft reproach in his tone. The same kind sergeants always used to rebuke their headstrong officers, “I see a young man breaking free of a role he was never intended to play.”

“Spit it out Collin,” Mateo said, his dark eyes flashing with an annoyance, “Tell us what we’re missing.” Collin’s ivory smile broke his obsidian face. He liked his team leader. Mateo was an odd choice. Unlike so many of the team, Mateo had no military or other professional combat background. He was just a civilian who took some of the combat courses offered in America by private companies. Yet that civilian knew how to listen, and the shorter man took great pains to make sure he didn’t make the same mistake twice. That was head and shoulders above what Collin faced with so many of his officers.

“The plan was good for a normal squad of soldiers, but we don’t have a normal squad of soldiers,” Collin said, “Each member has unique talents and styles of fighting. If we’re going to be an effective team, our plans are going to have to take those into account.” Mateo took a long draw on his cigar as he shot Collin a skeptical look.

“Okay, how long did it take you after we landed back at base to come up with this?” Mateo asked, “Because, if I remember correctly, you were pretty pissed when we left the field. I was half-expecting to need to order Quentin to keep you away from Jack.” Collin shifted under his team leader’s look. Sometimes having a perceptive leader was a double-edged sword.

“Yes, well, heat of the moment and such,” Collin said with an uncharacteristic uncomfortable look, “Still, once away from the field, it’s quite easy to see how uniquely talented young Mr. Winchester is.”

“How is charging into a mess of zombies a unique talent?” Kenn asked, his eyebrow arched quizzically.

“Did you see how many of the walking dead Jack put down before we dragged him off?” Collin asked in response, “The boy may be a bit loose in the head, but his dance of death is the most spectacular thing I’ve ever seen.” Collin gulped down the last swallow of Scotch and pointed at the monitor. “Look at him. It’s like watching a Hollywood-choreographed gunfight, right up to the two pistols blazing away.”

“He almost got himself killed,” Mateo said. Collin nodded grudgingly.

“Yes, well, I didn’t say it was a perfect thing. Just spectacular,” Collin admitted, “That’s why we have a spread of talent, as it were. If we manage to get all of us working in synch – well, we could very well shake the pillars of heaven.”

“That good, huh?” Mateo asked.

“Quite.”

Skull Island, Southern Pacific – 0930 hours Local – 16 July 2009 – Countdown: 2 years, 5 months, 12 days

Collin silently slid through the undergrowth. For the first time in months he felt alive. At his core, Collin was a predator. The slow track built up the tension just waiting for the explosion of action as Collin took down his prey. The SAS were more than willing to hone young Collin’s natural talent for hunting hominids, and they rewarded Collin by dropping him in every hell hole the British commando forces operated. Collin was put to the test against the best of his enemies: the Irish, the Iraqis, the Taliban, and even the bloody Chileans. He missed that constant testing when he joined up with one of the many private security companies operating in the Middle East. If he hadn’t needed the bloody money… Oh well, at least he was back hunting the undead. Compared to the humans Collin had been hunting, zombies were easy to track and had all the survival instinct of – how did The Steve put it? Ah yes – “lemmings on crystal meth.” Yet, they were still the most dangerous hominids Collin hunted. Not individually, but the walking dead was rarely caught alone.

Collin followed the tracks of the zombie horde to a clearing in the normally dense jungle forest. From the burnt ground of the clearing and the new foliage around the edges, this was where Tampa Team did one of their insertions. Bloody Americans – burn everything down, shoot anything that moves, and then figure out the situation. No grace, no finesse. Collin surveyed the scene before him as he reported to the rest of the team.

“Mattie, I’ve stumbled across a few of the buggers,” Collin said in a low voice into the throat mike, “Maybe about thirty or so. Looks like they’ve managed to dig up the odd smuggler band for morning tea.” Collin read off the GPS coordinates.

“Oh good, the Gunny’s been wondering what happened to that group,” Mateo said, “Jack and Quentin, close up on Collin. Sissy, find a spot you can work from. Steve, you’re with me.”

“The Steve, boss-man,” the medic chimed in. Collin could almost hear Mateo roll his eyes.

Collin kept himself occupied studying the zombies before he heard his two teammates tromping through the jungle about ten minutes later. To be honest, they were doing a fair job of keeping the noise to a minimum. They just weren’t up to his standards. Granted, the zombies were making more noise with their constant moans. Considering the undead tended to hunt by homing in on loud noise, this was a good thing. Still, there was the principle of the thing. Collin swallowed the tiny annoyance and put on his game face as Jack and Quentin moved next to him.

“Okay, so there are plenty of them for all of us,” Collin said, nodding to the zombies.

“Let’s not keep them waiting, shall we?” Quentin and Jack mirrored Collin’s own smile. The three spread out along the tree line. Collin crouched and brought up his weapon, a suppressed MP5/10 with a mounted EOTech. He glanced left and right to check on the other two. Satisfied, Collin triggered a burst into the closest zombie. Over the collective moans and half-screeches, the MP5/10 was effectively silent. The three ten millimeter bullets slammed into the base of the zombie’s skull and effortlessly shredded the brain. Collin waited a half-second just to make sure the horde of zombies didn’t suddenly turn and charge the three humans. Satisfied, Collin motioned Jack to attack.

Jack strode out into the clearing with the two pistols clutched in his hands. These weren’t Jack’s precious Brownings. Those were holstered on his thighs. Instead, the Australian wielded a pair suppressed Glock 17’s, each loaded with big 33-round magazines. Jack paused for the briefest moment before he unleashed a pair of double taps at the zombies closest to him. As the first two zombies crumpled to the burnt ground, Jack slid to the right. From where Collin was sitting, it looked like Jack was simply spraying the zombies with random gunfire, but the commando knew the truth. Jack was fully in the zone and letting loose with aimed double-taps at a speed that few competition shooters could hope to match. Collin focused on his own prey and triggered another burst at a zombie that managed to get a whiff of the new humans.

“Team, Jack is on the southern end of the clearing and working his magic,” Collin reported, “Quentin and I are on the west side being a bit quieter.” Collin felt the thump as Quentin took the head off of a zombie with a long hafted twenty-pound sledgehammer. With one hand. Good God, what did the Americans feed their children? Quentin just gave Collin a slow, lazy grin – a split second before slamming the hammer down on another straying zombie. Again with one hand, much to Collin’s private amazement.

“Sissy, cover Jack,” Mateo ordered, “Collin, we’re coming in from the northwest. Let’s backstop Jack.”

“Too bloody right,” Collin said, rising to open fire on a pair of zombies that suddenly turned to walk towards Collin and Quentin. Both were quickly dispatched with bursts to the head. Mateo hit the nail on the head with this idea. Let the close-quarters fighters engage with “quiet” weapons and take full advantage of their mobility against the slow moving monsters. The others were there to provide additional support with the heavier, noisier weapons once the monsters finally figured out they were being attacked.

The unique crack of Sissy’s L96 signaled the zombies were finally aware of the humans putting them down. Jack was bounding back towards Collin and Quentin as another zombie was decapitated by a .338 Lapua round from Sissy. The woman was scary fast with that rifle. Collin wished Sissy had been with his SAS team during that last romp through Ulster. The sudden sound of pistol fire snapped Collin back into the present. The empty Glocks were at Jack’s feet, and the Aussie now held his shiny, nickel-plated Brownings. Collin methodically placed three-round bursts into the zombies drawn into the kill zone by Jack’s movement and gunfire. The thirty zombies were down to maybe a dozen or so when Mateo and The Steve opened on their flank with M4’s. There wasn’t the confusion Collin would have seen in humans. Humans would have scrambled to deal with the new threat and blundered badly. Yet, that lack of reaction made it easier for Mateo and The Steve to pick off zombies with almost a casual ease. Between the six teammates, the dozen zombies lasted maybe fifteen seconds.

“Well, that worked out much better,” Quentin commented as the team regrouped.

“Quite,” Collin said in a stereotypical British understatement. Collin caught Mateo’s eye and nodded. The team was ready to do some zombie clearing.

Zombie Strike Part One Chapter Four

Friday Quote – Richard Branson

Train people well enough that they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don’t want to.

USS Doris Miller

The Navy announced the name for newest Ford-class carrier will be for Pearl Harbor hero. If you don’t know who Doris Miller was, he earned the Navy Cross for grabbing a machine gun and taking out Japanese planes during the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was the first African-American awarded the Navy Cross.

I can’t wait to hear what the sailor will call her.

© 2020 Derek Ward

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑