Wednesday, February 28, 2024


This is a leap year. Leap years come around every four years to keep our calendar more or less harnessed to the sun in its travels. February, being the shortest month on the calendar, gets the advantage of leap year with the addition of an extra day. Tomorrow is that day—February 29.

I often hear people say they don’t have time. That there aren’t enough hours in a day or days in a week or weeks in a month…and so on, to do something they want to do.

Well, if you’re one of those people, you’re in luck.

Tomorrow is an extra day. A day added to your calendar to give you 24 free hours to do whatever it is you haven’t had time for. A whole day. An entire day tailor made for reading that book. Or writing that story. Or that poem. Or whatever has been nagging at you, but which somehow always falls victim to the lack of time.

The time is now. Get ready to get up in the morning and get it done. 

At least get it started, and don’t worry if you don’t get it done. There’s another tomorrow, another 24 hours, waiting. The truth is, you’ve got all the time there is. And you won’t be getting any more of it—at least until the next leap year, in 2028. Don’t wait.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024


The history of the Old West is rife with notorious outlaws. Likewise, famous lawmen. But there were a few who, at one time or another, wore both hats, black and white. One such was a Utah cowboy born Erastus Christiansen (with various spellings) but known in his day and in history as Matt Warner.

Warner set out on the outlaw trail at an early age. He rustled cattle, stole horses, and graduated to robbing banks and other crimes. He was schooled in the dark arts by his brother-in-law Tom McCarty, and the two of them served as mentors of a sort to the notorious bandit who would become Butch Cassidy. Warner was, in a word, an outlaw.

But, later in life, Warner switched his black hat for a white hat and served as a justice of the peace and deputy sheriff for several years. In other words, a lawman.

Put those words together and you have a perfect description of Warner: OUTLAWMAN.

His story is told, in fictional form, in OUTLAWMAN: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MATT WARNER, coming soon in paperback and eBook from Speaking Volumes. The tale is based largely on Warner’s own chronicle of his life as spelled out in The Last of the Bandit Riders, as well as other sources, and told in a unique and surprising way.

OUTLAWMAN. Coming soon. Watch for it.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Speed of sound.

A writer friend and I were talking a while back. He mentioned a book he had read in which a character under fire heard a bullet strike a tree, then heard the report of the rifle. My friend suggested this was unlikely, as the speed of sound is much greater than that of the bullets of the era—the Old West.

I disagreed, and we left it at that.

However, curiosity got the best of me, so I thought I’d do what they tell you to do on Sesame Street: “Look it up.” It took a few hours and lots of mouse clicks to reach a number of relevant web sites. Here’s what I learned about the speed of sound and the velocity of bullets fired from a few rifles in common use at the time in question.

Sound travels through the air at 1,125 feet per second. That varies somewhat, affected by temperature, humidity, and wind. And, of course, sound waves dissipate and the noise fades with distance. The velocity of bullets varies as well, depending on wind and distance, and the bullet loses speed the farther it travels.

But, all things being equal, a bullet fired from a .52 caliber Spencer repeating rifle would lose the race, lumbering along at a paltry 931 to 1,033 feet per second.

The race with a .44 caliber round from a Henry rifle would be a dead heat, the bullet leaving the barrel at 1,125 feet per second.

A bullet from a Winchester .44-40 Golden Boy outruns sound at 1,433 feet per second.

The old-time Hawken rifle, .50 caliber model, spit out lead at 1,600 feet per second.

Winning it all is the Sharps .50 caliber, which, depending on grains of powder in the cartridge, fires bullets that fly 1,448 to 1,814 feet per second.

None of which matters. But how else is an old man with no gainful employment supposed to spend his time?