Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"There's a man at the door."

I was in the laundry room, turning dirty clothes into clean ones, when my daughter hollered to me that there was a man at the door.

I've actually been having some issues with a local who has lost his grasp on reality, and who believes that I'm the cause of his problems, so I made decent speed to the door. Not running, not amped, but ready. To my irritation, the door was standing ajar. I opened it, and found one of our newest officers at my department on the porch. I'm afraid that he may have misread my irritation with my daughter's accurate-yet-incomplete report as irritation at seeing him. He stepped back, and noted my hand in my pocket.

"Damn, Matt, you were about to put a cap in my ass!" He laughed.

I protested that I was happy to see him, and that no such thing was on my mind.

"Bull. You've got your hand on a gun, right now!"

I had actually been re-seating my little J-frame back into my leather pocket holster. I shrugged and pulled the whole rig out to seat it better, and re-pocketed it.

I closed the door and stepped outside, expecting there to be a potentially sensitive issue. There wasn't one. We chatted. Seems that a month or two back, I had done the recently-late officer from another agency a favor, when he had asked me over chat on our MDT to check on the registered address of a reported hit-and-run vehicle. I had found the suspect vehicle in its driveway, and documented the damage to it thoroughly photographically. I then had put all the picturess on a DVD,. and mailed it to him (my email couldn't handle it, and I was too lazy to set up a DropBox account.). Well, with his sudden passing, the case was languishing. I said that I would find the pictures and re-mail them to his P.D.

Strange the things that pop up.

Now I need to have a chat with the family about my expectations on answering the door and giving a more complete report than just "a man at the door."

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Daughter's surgery. Part 1.

My elder daughter had nothing on her eardrum. Look in her ear? See bones. So today, she went into a little surgical center place and had some skin grafted to the eardrum. Yeah, we're living in the future or something. The dock did it without even peeling back the ear. I asked him if he also built ships in a bottle. (He doesn't.)

So my 16 year-old honors student daughter came out of the surgical center, still groggy from the anesthetics, pain meds, and anti-anxiety meds that they had pushed, and said excitedly: "They gave me stickers! And now I'm free as a pretty pony!"

And then we put her in the car and took her home.

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Blogorado the ?th I've lost track. (6th, I think.)

I didn't have much time this trip, so I raced northwest, visited, and then raced back. There just wasn't enough time. But I was honored to be able to ferry a friend who otherwise wouldn't have been able to make it.
I roomed again with my great friend Ambulance Driver. There are a few people in this world that become one of your best friends the first time you meet them. One for me was my old patrol partner, P. Another is Ambulance Driver.
I didn't get enough time to shoot. And that what I shot wasn't great. I kept getting distracted from what I was going to do. I didn't spend anywhere nearly enough time with my good friend Gay Cynic.


I didn't spend anywhere NEARLY enough time with my gracious hosts, Farm Mom, Farm Dad, and Farm Girl. I got in some good breakfast time with Tam and the Nerds.


I didn't hang out much with my Dad and his wife, because we see each other all the time. PhlegmFatale I got to chat with a fair bit. AEPilot bought me a lovely hat. And he provided a LOT of food. Thanks, man!


Old NFO took Spear and Gunsmith Jason to shoot on Sunday morning, but didn't invite me. He sends me good coffee, but he doesn't invite me for the early morning rifle frivolity. Hm. I made coffee at the range again. Because dammit, I like a little coffee at the range.


DanielS arrived with his lovely wife, who was a maven of the open range, cooking burgers.


And others. We had a good time. We'll do it again, I hope.


Then, there was ChristinaLMT and SciFi and SciFi Wife and... I'm missing people.



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End of watch.

In a medium-sized county, you don't know every cop, but you eventually hear about the recipients of the clown awards. We had a local guy pass, and I didn't know anything about him. Ergo, he wasn't a bad egg.

It was time to go pay my respects.

I took my wife, at least partly because she had never been to a cop's funeral, and might need to know what to expect. And for the company, because I'm selfish.

The place was packed with family and friends, and with police and fire personnel, along with dispatchers and EMTs and paramedics. A lot of us parked on the grass.

The ceremony went as they go. There were prayers and testimonials and a few funny stories. Having not known the man, I tried to pay attention. Finally, the deceased officer's chief directed those of us with radios (I was in uniform and thus was one of them.) to turn on our radios and monitor the officer's agency's dispatch frequency. As I did so, I realized what was coming, but my wife did not.

The chief called dispatch under his call number, and we waited. County dispatch beeped an alert tone, and called out the deceased officer's radio call number. No answer. Dispatch called it out again. No answer. Dispatch called it a third time.  Dispatch then announced the officer's end of watch date, and thanked him for his service.

The room, filled with a disproportionately high number of young-to-middle-aged men, pretty much as one ducked our heads into our hands to wipe our eyes.

That end of watch call* always gets me.

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*Here's a version that I found on YouTube, which was vaguely like what I heard today.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Get off of my side.

Look, neighbor we've got some things in common, you and I. We both like to shoot. We appreciate nice guns. Heck, we even have a certain appreciation for not-so-nice guns. We both also hold our current administration with some contempt. So, common ground, I guess?

But you see, my contempt for our sitting President isn't based upon the color of his skin. It's not completely based upon his origin*.  It's not based upon his religion or lack of it**.

As a matter of fact, it is actually his pandering to race which is one of the reasons that I'm annoyed by our sitting President.

I don't like racism. I find myself irritated by racists. But I try, for the most part, to live and let live.

But you know what really pushes my button?

Imply that I'm a racist.

And here's the thing: when you and I, recent acquaintances, are having conversation between almost-strangers, and you casually drop the N-word and other racial remarks about our sitting President-- you're making some assumptions about me. You're assuming that I'm complicit with your speech, and your way of thinking. You're assuming that I'm not offended, and will continue this conversation. By implication, you are saying that you believe that I'm like you. A racist.

I'm not. And while I may appreciate the courtesies that you may have shown me and mine, I'll be taking my leave. Because today I can't stand talking to you, and your racist friends.

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*Hawaii? No. Kenya? I'm not a birther. Politically, he's from Chicago. There's a lot of righteous disdain to be held for Chicago's political system.

** Although his attendance to Rev. Jeremiah Wright's church, and support (until called on the issue) of a man who is patently racist, bothers me.

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Mornings with the girls

School has been bearing down on us. 

The night before last, my elder daughter returned home from band practice. Her band advanced to the Area Marching Contest last weekend (with a sweepstakes 1,1,1 from the judges, which I gather is A Good Thing), and this weekend will probably advance to State.   She got home after 8:00 pm, after going in early. My wife and I have been noticing that chores haven't been getting done enough around the house, and that her usually exemplary grades have been slipping. Well, she's taking dual-credit (college and A.P. high school) in two classes, and marching band, wind ensemble, choir, literary criticism, ready writing, and her other classes. Something's gotta give.

We, uh, may have gone off on her a bit hard. There were tears and teeth grinding. She got her chores done and then stayed up studying for a history exam.

The next morning, I made breakfast. (Bacon, eggs, toast, milk, coffee. You know-- breakfast.)  I fed her and sent her off to school with a sandwich. She gave blood just before lunch, and apparently the phlebotomists were shocked that she actually had consumed a real breakfast.  

She stayed late for concert instrument practice, then for Literary Criticism, and got home at about 6:30pm. 

This morning, I got her up at 5:40, with a full breakfast and packed another lunch (ham and cheese sandwich, dressed up with thin-sliced pickle and dijon, romaine, sharp cheddar, on multi-grain) and took her in. 

At 06:24, we drove into the high school parking lot. The lights were blazing on the stadium. The football team had been practicing on field for about an hour. My daughter said that she was "late." I said she was crazy-- she had until 6:30?!?  She pointed to the kids exiting the band hall with their instruments in a steady stream, and said, "The call time is 6:25!" (My phone still read 6:24AM.) She raced in. 

I'm amazed at how involved these girls are. 

I got home and woke my younger daughter. I gave her a full breakfast, and took her in for "Zero Period" for math tutoring at 07:30. At least she has her band practice for the week completed. 

I didn't spend as much time at school as this in high school and junior high. But my mama made me a fantastic* brown bag lunch every day to take with me. I appreciated it a little back then; now I am simply amazed. 

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*Seriously: Big Orowheat pumpernickel slices around mayo, mustard, good lunch meat or left-over pot roast or meat loaf, lettuce, thick-sliced cheese, tomatoes, onions, sometimes some peppers. A baggie of chips. A piece of fruit. Maybe a cookie or two. Often a dill pickle. Dang, those were great lunches!  

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Thursday, October 02, 2014

Ambi safeties.

I don't understand the constant claim that the ability to equally use a firearm with either hand is undesirable.

I've been carrying Glocks and double-action revolvers for the most part for the last 8 years. Sure, I love my beloved 1911s. But you know what's hard? Picking up a stock 1911 with your left hand, knocking off the safety (one-handed), and firing it.

I practice shooting partly because I need to know that in a gunfight, I can do what needs doing. While the chances of getting into a gunfight are small, the chances of me getting shot in a gunfight that I'm participating in are actually pretty high. (Well, higher than I'm comfortable with.) Given that my strong arm would likely be presented to an adversary in a gunfight or even a blade attack, the chances of my strong right arm or hand being injured aren't inconsiderable. Why not have a good plan to end this thing?

I qualify twice a year, and shoot quite a bit more than that. I don't shoot enough left-handed. Whenever I do, I'm reminded of how much I suck at it. I don't see any point in making an already difficult task near impossible. I like small auxiliary ambi safeties.

Admittedly, some ambidextrous safeties aren't made properly or installed properly. I am assuming that you have a quality part and installation. Swenson has made some fine ones for years.

So here I am, at odds with friend Jim Wilson. At least Jim and I agree on the uselessness of full-length guide rods.

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Let's all get shoulder-to-shoulder on this one:

A South Carolina state trooper named Sean Groubert shoots a guy. The guy (Levar Jones) was reaching for his wallet. The last shot was fired as the victim was actually raising his hands and surrendering.

Oh, and the victim was black, with the trooper was white.

The race of the victim may or may not have influenced the trooper's perception of what the victim was doing, but if so, this cop was so badly out of check that nothing was going to correct it.

There is nothing redeemable about this shooting. This trooper needs to be fired (done), charged (done), convicted (soon), and condemned by all cops. This isn't us. This was a fool who should never have been allowed to slip between the cracks and be a trooper.

I'm sorry, y'all. There's nothing more that I can say. We're better than this.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Upside down.

After working a full night and then some at the PD on Sunday, I hurried home, and changed clothes and went to the Fire Department. After doing a thorough vehicle check on a new piece of apparatus that we had just gotten second-hand from a larger department, I went to get my physical.

One of the reasons that I went to get my physical is because September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, and it was time to see if my PSA had fluctuated at all. The last couple of years, my Prostate Specific Antigen has been so very low that the chances of me being one of the one in six men who develop prostate cancer are extremely low.  I get this every year. No, I've not had the digital-rectal exam in some time. Yes, the PSA test has a certain false result rate. But over the years, getting multiple negatives tends to show a trend line.  Get yourself checked, gentlemen. It was part of the same blood draw that they did for my overall workup. My insurance pays for the wellness check once a year for FREE, and that's not at all uncommon. One single stick in my left arm, and I get to find out all kinds of things about myself. You need to do this.  And you need to donate to the outstanding fundraising efforts being coordinated by my good friends for Kilted To Kick Cancer.

While at the doctor's office, I endured his very nice, but kind of embarrassing praise about my recent weight loss. I guess that 30 lbs is a lot to most people, but when you start at over 300 pounds, it's really just 10%.  My doc asked what I've been doing, and I shrugged and said that I've been moving around a little more, eating a little less, and I've cut carbohydrates in my diet. This last part makes me sad, because it's akin to scrubbing on a stain for 10 minutes, and realizing that you're actually making progress. Dang it-- I'm going to have to keep at it. :(

As you can see from my trend line on my geeky homemade spreadsheet, the progress is slow but sure.  But no one wants to read about someone's diet; I apologize.

I then took the Fire Chief's city truck in to get serviced, and found myself waiting in the lobby of the dealer maintenance department for 2 hours, realizing my blunder: I hadn't eaten all night and all morning, because I was NPO for the blood draw! Curses!  I stopped on the way back to the FD and ate heartily of sandwiches without their buns.

Getting to sleep after 3:00pm, I expected to get up and work on my EMT class online from about 11:00pm until 7:00am. I woke at 3:30am-- I had slept the clock around. I've not done that in a long time. But I'd been up for about 23 hours, too.

So it is that I'm now finishing my weekend kind of upside down. I got up this morning at about 1:30am, when I should have gotten up 10 hours or more before. Today is going to be rough at work.

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I just now was getting my workout gear together, for a half-hour workout before my wife and kids get up. The majority of my marriage, I've been on opposite shifts from my wife. I have learned how to gather clothes in the dark pretty well. By accident, I've learned the value of a blacklight flashlight.  It turns out that I can shine a pretty bright UV flashlight around the bedroom as I get my stuff together, and this doesn't bother my sleeping wife the same as even a weak white light would. The reflected UV light just doesn't seem to penetrate the eyelids. So now I've got one on my bedside table.


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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September, this and that. Curmudgeon.

--I'm training a rookie. He's a nice guy, but I'm not used to having another guy in my patrol car. We're joined at the hip all shift.

--My daughter just turned 16, and I won't let her take her driving test until I'm completely satisfied with her ability with the manual transmission Honda that I'm giving her. She's really coming along, though. Something finally just clicked with regard to her feathering the clutch while revving an underpowered engine (there's just not that much compression left after all these years). I want her to really GET the joy of using your gears to maintain a perfect speed and keep you at the top of your power curve while downshifting through a downhill double-S curve, and then accelerating out of it, never touching the brake. I also love that she will know how to drive whatever she chooses to drive.

--I'm getting old or something. I've been really noticing lately how people let their kids interrupt adult conversations to have their say. I'm talking about 4 and 5 year-olds, lately. I'll be dealing with the parent in an important issue, and the parent will stop down to hear what the kid has to add. Which, of  course, means that I have to stop down to hear it, too. There is this egalitarian philosophy that seems to have pervaded the world, about how Everyone Has A Right To Give Their Opinion. Except that: that 4 year-old's opinion was not sought. It did not add to our understanding of the situation. Grownups were talking, and you have now rewarded undesired behavior.
I weep for our future.

--I get some evil looks when I casually mention that someone's kid is "kinda high maintenance, isn't he?" Oops.

--I bought some stuff from an older gent that my mother knows. He has Parkinson's and was clearing out some of his gun stuff. I got some dies and a bunch of bullets and a whole bunch of fired cases, along with some .44 Mag ammo  and some other reloading tools, for $100. I expressed interest in the old reloading manuals that he had, and he asked for $15 more. I only had a $20, and he didn't make change. Ah, well, I came away with a pretty good haul. That said, I don't have a 7mm magnum, for which a lot of the cases, bullets, and some dies were for. Also I got a bunch of cases and bullets for .22-250, which I don't have. (I would LOVE to have a Savage 99, but I'd rather it be .250-3000 or .300 Savage.)  There was a case of 12 gauge shotgun shells which touted the "New Plastic Hulls." There were 20 round boxes of .44 Magnum for under $5.00. I bought a couple of large shallow TupperTote boxes to put it all in, and put the lids on them, to keep the dust out.

--It never occurred to me to go visit the guy without taking my dad along. Those kind of treasure hunts are right up his alley.

--Now I'm the parent haranguing his 7th grade daughter into using her agenda planner every day to be organized about studying for tests and getting assignments in on time. I have to stay on her, or she won't use it. She protests that she's not organized. I answer that that is EXACTLY why she needs to use it. All the time.

--I'm wanting a new car for me. I'm thinking about a nice reliable used Tacoma 4dr pickup.

--This crappy low/no-carb diet of mine has caused me to lose a belt notch or two this past summer, and about 20 something pounds. I will grudgingly admit that the diet works. Eh.

--Some dudes are up on my house right now to put on a new roof. We're negotiating it into gutters as well. Getting excited about putting gutters on your house pretty much makes you an Old Man.

--Get your prostate checked. And donate to Kilted To Kick Cancer, which my buddy Ambulance Driver and others are raising money for.

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More coffee. The high-end stuff.

After my last post, Old NFO sent me a pound in two packages of Kona coffee. I reiterate: NOT "Kona Blend", but 100% Kona.

I have been making it in the French Press, with filtered water. I have shared it with my family but little.

My wife tilted her head and squinted and asked "Why are people sending you coffee?" I smiled and told her that it was because I'm such a big deal, which made her roll her eyes. In truth, I don't know why I'm blessed to receive such blessings, and I know that I don't really deserve such friends and friendly gestures.

[Raised cup] Here is to you, Old NFO. Until the next time that we can share a pot of coffee on the range or at our friends' place.

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