Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Greetings once again, my friends. According to the Blogger dashboard, it’s been 15 days since I posted any free ice cream for your enjoyment. My sincerest apologies for the absence. You do your best to make plans only to see them beat to death by cold, hard, unsympathetic reality.

Before going any further, please allow me to welcome two new followers. First is Dan Oblak. According to his profile, he has a bigger online presence and more links than GunDiva which is saying a lot. Dan, I’m not sure which is your main outlet. So, if there is a particular link you want plugged here, drop me a comment and I will update accordingly. Second is Caterina Serra. Her profile reveals four blogs all of which appear to be written in a Latin based language…Italian, I think. Same offer I made to Dan applies…let me know which link you want plugged….

If the dashboard is to believed, the ranks of the “official” Blogger sanctioned faithful have swollen to 53. Add to that several people who lurk here from Wordpress and Facebook (I’m looking at you Bob S. and Ellie H.) and pretty soon I will have to be looking for a larger venue to host this party. That and find a discount on adult beverages and snacks.

Anywho, the reason for my absence is fairly simple. When I had time, I had no energy. When I had energy, I had no time.

To bring everyone current on life at Castle Erickson, the two little girls who were briefly introduced in the last post have already passed through to another home. We only wound up having them for the one night. It turned out for the best for everyone. M&M had come home from her visit with the bio parents that day with a cough that developed over the remainder of the week into an upper respiratory infection and bilateral ear infection. So, it wouldn’t have been the best time to bring to new little ones into the mix and get them acclimated while having to give full attention to a sick little one. The family who took them already had a little girl of the same age which would make the transition easier.

M&M is doing much better now. We had been hoping it was only allergies and that it would pass when the weather settled. Such was not to be though. When she started gurgling in her sleep over the weekend, it was time to get her to the doctor. M&M has remained her usual, calm self throughout the entire process. As I described to Mimi, it was M&M plus phlegm and snot. No crying. No fussing. No loss of appetite. No diarrhea.

I think I caught a touch of whatever M&M had as I developed a scratchy throat and sinus congestion as well. That, and my perennial sleep deprived state, is likely the source of my lack of energy of late. The Queen seems to have avoided my and M&M’s fate which is surprising considering her bouts with the mystery illness over the last several years.

Other than that, there is not much of significance to report at this time.

I did shoot in a USPSA match almost two weeks ago. I placed first in the Single Stack division (we’ll overlook the fact that I was the only one shooting in that division at that match). I was 14TH out of 18 overall. My match results are definitely highlighting fundamentals I need to work on if I want to get better. First, I need to practice securing a repeatable grip following the draw. My strong hand thumb is developing an annoying habit of slipping under the safety, and my weak hand might as well not be there for all the support it’s giving me. Magazine changes also need work. It does me no good to insert a fresh mag and not seat it fully. Finally, I need to work on slowing down and focusing on the front sight for accuracy. If you can’t see it, you can’t hit it.

One of these days I will get around to posting some content that doesn’t involve guns or M&M. There is plenty of content in the world upon which to pontificate and gloriously excrete. I haven’t spent any time in a long time discussing politics. There’s gas prices, the recession and basic economics to discuss. There’s libertarianism and other –isms to discuss.

In the meantime, I’ll get back to wishing someone (or several someones…I’m not picky) will send me a Rock River Arms LAR-15 Elite Operator 2 for my birthday coming up in 11 days. They’re on sale right now, too.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Hearing Results And More

As I mentioned in one of my last posts, there was a status conference with the court regarding M&M's case last week. The Queen and I attended, and I think the hearing went well overall. Or, at least as well as we could have expected even if not as well as we had hoped. I have to say that I expected it to be every bit the circus that you might think for a court hearing involving parents having their kids taken away. The reality was anti-climactic to say the least. 

The Queen and I arrived about a half hour early to scope things out, meet with the attorneys and case worker  (if necessary) and generally make sure we weren't late. 

The attorneys for the parents arrived about 15 minutes before the scheduled time. The Queen and I kept eyeballing the door for any sign of the parents. 10 minutes before, nope. No sign. 5 minutes, nada. Time for the hearing, no bio parents. 

We went into the courtroom with the case worker. We had been told that we would be invited up to the bench to participate if we wanted to. M&M's case was called, and we went up with the attorneys and the case worker. The prosecutor gave a very brief rundown of the case for the judge's benefit. The attorneys (court appointed apparently) for the parents advised the court that they had not been successful in contacting the bio parents. The ad litem (the attorney appointed by the court to represent M&M) gave a brief statement about M&M's status, the care we've been providing, etc. 

Then, the CPS case worker gave her report. She elaborated on M&M's medical condition and the bio parents situation. We found out at this point that the bio parents are not complying with their court ordered service plan which includes parenting classes, anger management classes, and other requirements. She also advised the court that the parents are in danger of being evicted from their apartment and having a repossession (of their vehicle I assume). When asked by the judge, the caseworker advised she was not aware that the parents had not been in contact with their attorneys. She also did not have an explanation for why they were not present at the hearing although she confirmed that they had been given notice of the hearing. 

In short, the parents have gone from being in hot water to sitting inside the Chernobyl reactor...after the meltdown.  

Of the issues facing them, perhaps the most significant after the possible eviction and repossession is the parenting class issue. They have been kicked out of their class for non-attendance. The reason this is significant is that: 1) they don't get their kid back without completing it, 2) CPS arranged and paid for the first one [that would be your tax dollars wasted right there], 3) the parents will have to arrange and pay for the next class themselves if they want their kid back (I'll give you one guess as to how likely that is to happen), and 4) it does not do them any favors with the court. 

The case worker mentioned us positively, and the judge asked us if we were related to M&M. The Queen and I had to say no, but we both told the court that we wanted to adopt her if possible. The case worker had to advice the court that there is a family member out of state who wants to adopt M&M (despite The Queen and I mentally kicking her and willing her to have a sudden case of laryngitis). Fortunately for us, the case worker has not been diligent about sending the necessary paperwork to the family member's state to get the approval process going. 

And then it was over. I think the entire hearing was about 10 to 15 minutes start to finish. There will be another status hearing in three months. I fully expect the parents rights to be terminated at that hearing or immediately after. That boils it down to a horse race between us and the out of state family member. 

We did have a good discussion with our adoption coordinator after the hearing (she attended as well). She had some good, if not necessarily comforting, insight into the process with the out of state family member. At the end of the conversation, I half jokingly mentioned that M&M needs a brother, and our coordinator said, "I just happened to get a broadcast today via email about two brothers who are legal risk (meaning the legal case for termination of parental rights is fairly far along)." The Queen and I looked at each other, blink, blink..."send us their information." 

After reviewing the available information (which, though not much, is positive), we had our coordinator put us in the running for the boys. They are 9 and 6, good students and have no medical or psychological problems (that's a huge issue in these days of Ritalin for everyone). It'll be at least a week before we hear anything on whether we will get them, but the broadcast is limited to our region instead of statewide which narrows the candidate family field. 

In other news, I took my first business trip with the new job today. As I write this, I am winging my way home on an American Airlines MD 82. It's been a long time since I flew commercially and even longer since I flew American. Fortunately, I was spared the indignities of both the porno scan and the tickle and grope at both ends of my trip. Thank you, Lord, for small favors. 

The Queen texted me just before I boarded the plane to let me know that I have a special gift waiting for me when I get home. It seems we got a call from our adoption coordinator today needing to find an immediate placement for two little girls ages 1 and 4. The Queen and I had a brief exchange the punch line to which is that I will arrive home to be out numbered four to one. 

Uh huh. That's what I said too. 

The two girls will probably not be a permanent placement, but we really don't know yet. They needed a home right away, and we said right this way. 

It's interesting, before M&M, The Queen and I had discussed having one or two kids. Max. Over the weekend, we both had the same thought separately that we wouldn't mind having up to six. 

If you had known me 20 years ago, you would be saying "who the heck are you and what did you do with Shepherd K." about right now. What can I say? M&M has had a tremendous influence on me. 

It's a good thing I bought The Queen a seven passenger Navigator. 

Now, when do the boys arrive so I have someone to teach how to shoot?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Now The Revisions Will Begin In Earnest

I am sure many of you saw the news article about the last known service member from World War I passing away earlier this week. To many, this is a quaint human interest story. A brief blip in the passage of time. The end of an era to others perhaps.

To a student of history, this event is something else entirely. It is a cause for alarm and even borders on being a tragedy. Why? Because an invaluable resource, a person with firsthand knowledge of the events who can give live testimony to what was witnessed, has been lost to the sands of time.

Some may try to say that live, first person accounts are less important in the modern age thanks to the wealth of information we have available to us in the form of records, letters, recordings, etc. The problem with that is that all history is revisionist. History is written by the winners and survivors. Rarely is history complete and unbiased. The biases and opinions of the historian inevitably color their reporting of the events. It taints their interpretation of those precious records that do survive after the death of those that created them. That doesn’t even take into account those historians who abandon any pretense of objectivity.

So, we have lost the last living witness to a major historical event that shaped much of what has transpired in our times today. Even if the last living witness were the most prolific writer and recorded every memory or thought she had regarding her experiences, those records can be lost, destroyed, suppressed or censored. Historians no longer have someone alive to challenge them and say, “You got it wrong.”

Very soon, much sooner than we care to consider, we will lose the last of The Greatest Generation. Already, we see people who adamantly deny that The Holocaust every happened. We have endless debates about Pearl Harbor. The ending of the war with atomic weapons has already been revised from a decision that saved the lives of millions to a horror for which America should be ashamed. If you have access to veterans of World War II or survivors of The Holocaust, I encourage you to spend time with them. Get their stories. Record them if you can. Do what you can to keep their stories alive.

I had the opportunity in college to hear a Holocaust survivor speak. His story was at the same time chilling and inspiring. It was a story of determination, resilience, ingenuity, defiance, endurance and so much more. He told us of how he learned to say he knew a certain skill even if he had never even if had had no experience in it at all because the Germans would take those with the skill, put them to work and gas the rest. He told us of how the prisoners working as slaves would surreptitiously sabotage aircraft or ammunition or whatever they were being forced to manufacture. The history of those events became real to me that day hearing him speak. No longer could they be denied. There was someone right in front of me who had lived through it. How do you convey that to a high school freshman who can’t be bothered to do the dishes or take out the trash because their eyes are glued to a smart phone or an iPad or some such?

"And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale — then the lie passed into history and became truth. 'Who controls the past' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.'" — 1984 by George Orwell

Zombie Gun

I thought the "Hello Kitty" AR15 was cute. I might have bought one for M&M at an appropriate age. Then I saw this: A Zombie Assault Gun For Girls. I don't know whether to be impressed or disturbed.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Match Results - Take 2

So, GunDiva has chosen to bestow upon me the title of GunDude. With 37 out of 253 posts labeled “guns” in some form or fashion on this blog, I suppose I will have to be gracious and accept the moniker with all humility and endeavor to live up to expectations. What better way to do that than to report on the results of my second attempt at participating in an IDPA match?

A week ago today, I participated in my second ever IDPA match. This time at a very nice outdoor range here locally. This time, I invited Number One Follower and Cousin B to join me. NOF had to beg off due to work issues; however, Cousin B came out and brought a friend of his to boot. They both claimed they had a good time and cursed me for giving them more excuses to get out and turn money into smoke and noise, but that’s jumping ahead of the story a bit.

Before moving on, I have to tattle on myself. I had a sexist moment before the match. As we were all standing around waiting for people to pay their match fees, get their score sheets, etc., we turned around to find an attractive young lady standing in line wearing very fashionable platform, high heels. I raised an eyebrow and whispered while snickering under my breath to the person standing next to me (I can’t remember if it was Cousin B or someone else) that I really hoped she would shoot the match in those heels. Now, I am sure there are women how could shoot the match in those shoes and turn in a much better score than me in normal shoes, and it was really unfair of me to laugh and jest at her expense while making a prejudiced assessment of her abilities based on her choice in footwear. Shame on me. She and her husband appeared to be nice people from the limited interaction I had with them. However, she did have the good sense to change out of her hooker footwear before the match began, but don’t forget about her. She will resurface in our story a bit later.

The match consisted of four stages again.

The first stage went relatively well for me. I shot a 19.15 on 6 targets spaced from 3 to 15 yards using “tactical priority/tactical sequence” (meaning you fire one shot at each of the first 5 targets, give 3 shots to target 6 and return back giving two more shots each to targets 1 through 5). I did get a procedural here for shooting target three or four twice out of tactical sequence on the first pass through. I couldn’t help it. I got excited and double tapped the bang switch. I dropped two points down on targets 3, 4 and 5. So, accuracy wasn’t too shabby for this stage.

Then, the wheels came off in the second stage.

Stage 2 had a paper target, followed by two hanging metal gongs, followed by 6 falling steel plates, capped off by another paper target. Starting/shooting position was from behind a stack of barrels. Before I got up to shoot, the hanging gongs had to be removed as a shooter on the next bay over got hit by a frag coming off one of the gongs. From what I understand, he was alright, but it just goes to show that it’s all fun and games until someone gets fragged. A little more attention to stage set up will be used next time I’m sure. Anyway, I shot an abysmal 40.26 on this stage with two points down each on both paper targets. Where I ran into trouble was the falling steel plates. I got through the first four with one shot each at which time WARHAMMER ran dry. A sloppy mag change later, and I transitioned to the other side of the barrel (which, in hindsight, I really shouldn’t have done) to get the remaining targets. I shot steel number 5 in one or two shots before it fell. Then, I started in on steel number 6….which sat there….and mocked me. I swear that thing had a hole in it because, after the first couple of misses, I slowed way down, focused on sight alignment and trigger discipline…and still missed it. I could not tell where the rounds were going. ARRRGGGHHH!!!! I was almost to the point of walking up range and beating it with WARHAMMER when it finally fell allowing me to shoot paper target 2. The scorer had pity on me and didn’t charge me a procedural for not engaging paper target 2 before the remaining steels after transitioning sides of the barrel.

Stage three might as well have been a continuation of stage 2 for all the good it did me. Stage 3 had 6 paper targets more or less in a line abreast formation at about 15 yards. Course of fire was two center mass shots before moving to a second shooting position and putting 1 “head” shot on each target. I got procedural error here again for shooting a “head” shot from the wrong location. I also had a stove pipe malfunction. I am reasonably sure that resulted from limp wristing as it didn’t happen again the rest of the night. Just a couple of rounds later, I had a failure to feed from a nose down round in the second mag. 34 points down for incredibly bad accuracy. Raw time: 41.79 seconds.

Stage four saw a little bit of redemption. Same line abreast target set up. Starting position was gun on a barrel covered by a cloth with a number next to it. Don’t shoot the target corresponding to the number. Two shots to everything else. Simple enough. Raw time: 21.75 with 8 points down. There are worse ways to finish a match.

So, where did I fall in the standings? Second to dead last out of 34 shooters. Dead last in my division. Guess who I beat? Yes, that’s right. The nice young lady in the footwear of questionable morality who was shooting an M&P 9 and taking her sweet time on each target.

God was shaming me for my arrogance I am sure. Nothing like a lesson in humility to bring me back to reality.

Next match and opportunity for redemption and improvement is this Sunday.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

M&M Update

As promised, I’d like to take this opportunity to give you all a brief update on the goings ons of The Queen and M&M. M&M has been with us for eight weeks now and is twelve weeks old. She remains one of, if not, the sweetest, most contented babies I’ve ever come across. She weighs in at a little over twelve pounds now. She’s starting to give us real smiles as opposed to gas induced smirks.

Since I no longer work from home, The Queen is the primary care giver during the day. I get the night shift. A typical day for us goes something like this:

6:00 to 6:30 AM (depending on when I got to bed the night before) – the alarm goes off

6:00/6:30 to 7:00/7:30 AM – I take care of my morning constitutionals and ablutions. M&M has a knack for waiting until I am right in the middle of important negotiations concerning water rights/meditations on the spirituality of proper elimination while on the toilet to make it known that she is, in fact, awake and in need of nourishment. This necessitates rushing through the required paperwork in order to get M&M a bottle before she wakes up the whole neighborhood. While she is content in most respects, she will not suffer to miss a meal for long without proper exercise of her well developed vocal capabilities.

Interesting little side tidbit here: on two occasions now (once for The Queen and once for me), we have heard M&M call across the house in a loud and clear “MAAAAmaaaaaa” while we were mid bottle warming. We both did double takes…did we hear that right? I’m sure it’s only a coincidence at this point; but, who knows, perhaps we are taking care of Einstein reincarnated.

7:00/7:30 AM – After insuring that The Queen has what she needs to take over with M&M which usually means insuring they are both tucked back in their respective bed covers after the morning feeding, I give them both a gentle kiss goodbye before heading out to play in the traffic.

What happens between 7:30 AM and about 8:00 PM varies greatly depending on what’s on the schedule. So far, I’m at work from about 8:30 AM until 5:00 PM more or less before once again taking my life into my hands and battling traffic (vehicular weaponry really should be legalized…just sayin’).

The Queen and M&M’s activities depend in large part on whether there is a scheduled doctor’s or CPS visit. M&M is supposed to have a court ordered, supervised visit with her bio parents once a week at the CPS offices. I say supposed to because her bio parents have not been terribly consistent in making the visits. I haven’t counted, but my sense is that they are batting about 50% so far. When The Queen is not beholden to doctors or CPS, she likes to take M&M out and about for various activities. One time, it was story time at the Barnes & Noble bookstore near my office. Sometimes, it’s a walk in the stroller. Frequently, it’s clothes shopping at nice resale shops around the area (The Queen can’t bring herself to shop retail which is fine with me and my wallet). Last night, it was my middle niece’s high school band concert followed by dinner with the family at which M&M was fought over and passed around like a bong at a Pink Floyd concert.

Whenever we wind up back at home, it’s back to Daddy Hawk time. I take back over the bottle and diaper duties. There is usually snuggle time on the reclining love seat in the TV room (read – she falls asleep on my chest causing me to fall asleep). She gets another bottle at about midnight give or take a few minutes.

Most nights, she is waking up at around 3:30 or 4:00 AM looking for a bottle, diaper or both. It depends on how awake I am as to whether we make it back to bed/crib or resume our snuggle time positions on the love seat.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

I would like to solicit some extra special prayers this week as the first court status conference regarding M&M’s case is being held this week. Neither The Queen nor I have any clue what to expect. We’ve been getting contradictory information about how things will/should go. We just know we will be at the hearing.

More updates to follow as events warrant.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

New Follower and Blog Bling

As the title of this post suggests, I have the pleasure of welcoming another new follower. Mystic Mud from the blog of the same name found her way here and decided to stay a while. Mystic Mud, I hope you enjoy.

Also, for the first time in a long time, I have the honor of receiving an award. GunDiva at The GunDivas (at least in this particular instance) passed along the following:

In addition to the blog bling, GunDiva gave me a new title: GunDude. She has some really nice things to say along with that which I'm not I deserve, but who am I to argue with her or look a gift horse in the mouth. Anyway, as is the way of these things, there are strings attached none of which are particularly onerous which are as follows:

1) Copy and Paste the award on your blog.
2) Link back to the blogger who gave the award.
3) Pick out five favorite bloggers with less than 200 followers and leave them a comment on their blog to let them know they have received the award. 

My nominees to keep the love flowing are:

1) *Framboise Manor* 
2) North 
3) Standing Outside Looking In  
4) I Aim To Misbehave 
5) Daddy Bear's Den 

 These are all nice folks. Go give them a read if you haven't already.