31 December 2011

New Years Eve

Today I went out in the Mustang, with the top down. It was in the mid sixties, a bit on the cool side but OK with a jacket.

This is one of the things I love about living in the South, when it snows here it is An Event. In the Midwest it's just winter. When it snows here it might last a day or two before going away, in the Midwest it isn't unusual to have snow for a couple of weeks at a time.

In my youth it wasn't unusual for the first snows to start before Thanksgiving and to have snow cover until mid February or later.  These days the snow doesn't last as long in southwest Iowa, and the pheasant have moved northward as well I've been told. Sad that, but nothing stays the same. But I digress.

The smoker is fired up, the hickory is soaking, and soon there will be ribs. 2011 is winding down and 2012 is nigh; in 356 days the end of the world is scheduled according to the doomsayers reading the Mayan calendar. I just think the calendar maker got bored and said "Someone else can take it from here."

At any rate, all of us here at the Refuge wish all of you electronic friends in the magic box a healthy and prosperous New Year.

Light A Candle

From Gun Free Zone I followed a link to Extrano's Alley where I read a post referring to a great idea that Weer'd Beard had.

And so, on the eighth of January I'll be doing my part.

Gotta go take some pictures now and put them on the laptop, I'll be in Jacksonville when it all goes down.

30 December 2011

When Does It End?

While doing my rounds I came upon this little tidbit from Guffaw, who linked a bit from from Clayton Cramer, who linked this article in the Washington Times, about how the People's Republic of California has now decreed that you must have a prescription for certain brands of over-the-counter cough syrup because it is being used as a recreational drug.

At first I was just going to write a little blurb to wonder how long it takes the nanny staters on the right (oh, you thought all tyrants were leftists? You thought wrong, there are those on both sides of the aisle who would limit your liberty for your own good) to finally say "Enough already!"

It's worse than I thought.

When I read the entire article I saw that it's not just California and it's not just cough syrup. The quote from Gideon J. Tucker comes to mind: "No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session."

I'm thinking that the idea of having a part-time legislature was a darn good one, and not just at the Federal level.


I got a new radio for the Subaru that has bluetooth and can play from both an SD card and a flash drive. Everything is hooked up and it sounds great.

Now I have almost everything in the Subaru that I have in the Mustang, audio-wise. I lack only steering wheel controls (which I do use) and voice commands (which I don't use, except for the phone).

Daughter and Son-In-Law will be taking the Subaru to Florida next week, I'm going to have one or the other of them sync their phones for the trip.

And of course, since they will have the Subaru I will be forced to drive the Mustang.  I guess I will have to learn how to cope.

26 December 2011

The New Toy

So I've been working a bit with my new toy. To recap, it's a High Standard model H-B, Type 1 with a 4 1/2" barrel, manufactured sometime between 1940 and 1941 according to the online references I have found; the age is determined by the lack of a safety lever on the left side of the slide. It was my grandfathers, handed down to my father and now to me.

The slide didn't want to cycle all that well, so I took it off and cleaned and lubed it. It still didn't want to cycle all that well so I did a no-no and removed it then released the tension on the recoil spring. I was then able to spray the recoil spring down with some clean and lube and then I reset it, reinstalled the slide and cycled it a few times. That seems to have loosened it up, now the slide seems to cycle like it should. Being used to the .45 it feels a bit weak, but then again it is a .22 so it doesn't need as much spring tension.

Next I loaded 10 rounds into the magazine and attempted to manually cycle them through, but they would not feed unless I pushed the slide up. I fiddled with the tabs on the magazine and now the rounds cycle through manually without any problems.

I can work the firing pin manually, it moves freely and retracts without any issues. The hammer, according to Dad, was manufactured by a gunsmith to replace the original that was broken and no replacement was available for it. It doesn't match the contours of the gun, but it works just fine.

So with all the preliminary checking out of the way it looks like the gun will function as it should. Next is range time, I'm hoping that a bit of exercise will loosen the action up a bit further. It's probably been 30 years or more since the gun was fired, Dad didn't shoot it much and Brother didn't shoot it at all.

After action report will occur after the range session that I should try to schedule real soon, maybe after getting back from Jacksonville. After I have test fired the gun and verified that it works like it should Middle Daughter wants to learn to shoot. The .45 was a bit much for her to handle but the .22 should be just the thing for her to learn on.

She says she wants to get her concealed permit, and if she still wants to do so after we have some range time on the .22 I'll try to find a .380 or a 9mm for her. I want to check out some of the compact Glock 9's anyway, so this is just another excuse to fondle some firearms (like I needed another one).

I must be doing something right.

Day After Christmas

It was a pretty good Christmas at the Refuge, we didn't do any gift exchanges because we're saving all of that for January in Jacksonville with Eldest Daughter.

It is the second Christmas that Laura has not been with us. We all miss her, but this year wasn't as painful as last year.

I hope all of my friends in the magic box had a great Christmas.

25 December 2011

Merry Christmas!!!

From all of us at the Refuge to all of you imaginary friends that live in the magic box.

Merry Christmas to one and all, may the peace of the season hold you all the rest of the year.

This is my hometown with it's canopy of lights. I found the picture at wunderground.com.

23 December 2011

Home Again

It sure is nice to get into my own shower, and I can't wait to crawl into my own bed tonight. Everyone is glad to see us and we are glad to be home.

22 December 2011

Safe Landing

We got everyone up and around at 11:30 PM for a 12:00 departure. We left about 15 minutes late, par for the course, and traveled over the (Mississippi) river and through the (Hoosier Nat'l Forest) woods from Grandmother's house we go. 17 hours and one time zone change later we landed safe at Sister's house in Salem VA.  I'll be staying the night and continuing on to the Refuge in the morning.

It was a nice trip, but it's always good to be home again.

21 December 2011

It Might Be GM

but someone still has a good advertising department. This commercial has been running here in Iowa since we got here, it almost makes me want a Silverado.

20 December 2011

The Two Reasons

that Ron Paul should never be allowed anywhere near the levers of (international) power.

I'm beginning to think his economic views are just a fluke. To hell with Ron Paul and anyone who thinks having him as President is a good idea.

HT: Ace of Spades HQ

19 December 2011

Idiots Out Wandering Around

Youngest Son had a gift card and some Christmas cash just burning a hole in his pocket, so he wanted to go trade it for something fun.  I wanted to go check on this. A quick check shows that the Wally World in Maryville MO has "limited stock" of the item in question. So, off to Maryville we go!

Voila, the store does indeed carry this rifle, in both collapsible and non-collapsible stock form.  The price tag was in the $850 range, and I was tempted, but (probably fortunately for my budget) I can't buy the gun in Missouri because I don't live in a neighboring state. That's OK though, cause the store in Henderson says they have limited quantities as well!

There was also a .22 long rifle M4 look-alike for about half the price. I'm curious to see if it is available in Henderson, too.

On the way back I wanted to see the windmills. These giants are located astride Highway 59 just north of the Missouri border, about halfway between Tarkio MO and Shenandoah IA, running in a roughly east to west line.

Iowa's agricultural production used to mostly be used  for food (either in vegetables or in feed stock for cows or pigs), but more and more it is being diverted to energy production. The corn is being used for ethanol and now a new form of
produce stands in the fields.

These machines are a funny looking crop, but their output feeds the grid of a power hungry nation. On this cold 36 degree day, even though the wind was blowing, the machines were all still.

Just east of the windmills on the county road, at the junction to the road that leads into tiny little Northboro Iowa, stood a sign pointing to the North Pole. Of course we had to follow the arrow into town to see what it was all about.

I didn't see any snow at the North Pole, but the display was nice anyway.

Thoughts On Carry

The only place I had to disarm all the way across from North Carolina through Virginia to Iowa was in Illinois. I didn't think it would bother me much, but I didn't like it. It's kind of strange, I guess, how it gets to be second nature and when you can't carry you are aware of the lack of that weight and bulk at your side, even though the bulk and weight is relatively small.

In Iowa I can carry just about anywhere. There are doubled fines for committing public offenses when in designated weapons free zones (the area in or on, or within one thousand feet of, the real property comprising a public or private elementary or secondary school, or in or on the real property comprising a public park. A weapons free zone shall not include that portion of a public park designated as a hunting area), and I cannot carry on actual school grounds, but carry is not prohibited by Iowa law anywhere else (including, amusingly enough, the aforementioned "weapons free zones". Federal laws still apply of course).

Persons with permits can carry openly or concealed, and the permit also covers other concealed weapons such as blades over 5" in length. I can even have a beer if I want to provided I am not over the limit (0.08). I have not noticed bloodshed in the parks, shootouts in the street, or carnage and mayhem in the restaurants that serve alcohol for consumption on the premises. See North Carolina? It can be done.

There are some times I am proud to say I was born and raised in Iowa (and other times I want to say "Never heard of the place," particularly at election time), they do manage to get some things right. This is one of those things.

Now if the Illinoisians can get carry in their state I will be good all the way across.


If it's Hy Vee, it must be Iowa. I don't think I've seen these anywhere else.

 We first saw gas prices under $3.00 in Missouri, where you can find it for $2.95 pretty regularly. I saw it once for $2.89.  See North Carolina, it can be done!

Baby it's cold out here! Temperatures were in the single digits overnight when we first arrived, it has warmed up a bit since then.

17 December 2011

Merry Christmas To Me?

I mentioned in a previous post that my Dad had an old Hi Standard .22 (I think it's a Model B) plinking pistol. My brother has it now but doesn't do much with it.

I'm hoping to take that gun home with me. Wish me luck.

UPDATE: It's a model HB, no manufacturing date (it says Patent Pending and is serial number 55254) and it is currently stashed in my dry-box.


”When you create Hope in people, you create expectations. When you do not fulfill those expectations, when the change becomes more of the same old, same old, the Hope that was created can only turn to anger, frustration and bitter disappointment.”

Kind of a funny story, but the quote is completely serious.

16 December 2011

Don't Laugh When Mom Is Around

Eldest Sister's Eldest Daughter, Favorite Niece, is having a bit of the back pain. She was in a car wreck last month, nothing serious but it gave her some muscle strain that she's having to deal with and she is still a bit sore.

Anyhow, she was sitting on the couch in pain and Mom asked her "Do you want a vibrator?"

Favorite Niece was, of course, aghast; not only that Grandma knew what such a device was, but that she would even offer something like that.

Turns out the couch she was sitting on has this switch that turns a vibration pad on in the seat back.

Mom doesn't think it is nearly as funny as the rest of us do.

As a side note, not a big fan of the new Blogger setup. I have to keep coming back to reformat my posts, which is more of a pain than it's worth. Unfortunately, once you go full retard there's no stepping it back. Three edits trying to get rid of the extra spacing between the first and second and the second and third paragraphs, and I finally had to do it in HTML. Redonkulous.

14 December 2011


Care for a drink?


Saturday night we got here and I went out and had a drink with my aunt, who is only a few years older than I am.

Sunday I made my Mom very happy and went to church with her and Dad.

Monday Younger Sister and her hubby came over for dinner.

Yesterday we went touring all over southwest Iowa visiting uncles and aunts that I had not seen for 27 years.

Today I went and found some shirts for Grandbaby. Later on Brother will be coming over, Younger Sister is already here, B-I-L will be coming over after he gets off of work, and Brother will be making deer chili.

I told Brother that he needs to give up some of that corn-fed Iowa deer that he has in his freezer so that I can take it back to NC (he says we don't have deer at home, just big dogs). I think I may be able to talk him into it by the time we leave.

Youngest Son is bored to tears, but I'm having a good time.

12 December 2011

A Training Opportunity

A couple of months ago I was fortunate enough to be able to participate in a training class. I learned a lot and it really did help.

Another class has now been scheduled. I'm not going to be able to make this one, but the opportunity is there. If you would like to learn to shoot better - or just shoot, period - you can't do much better than this class.

Shoot Sean an email and he will set you right up.

11 December 2011

Catching Up

We took off from the Refuge on Friday at noon and landed safely in Roanoke at 3 PM. A quick outing to celebrate Favorite Niece's birthday (she's 18 - oh my) and a bit of a nap and at about 2 AM Saturday morning we were off heading west.

We made it to the Ancestral Homestead at about 6 PM local time. Favorite Niece learned to drive a stick in the Banana Boat on the way, so she is very pleased with herself. We left the Mustang at home this trip, Iowa is not a good place for rear wheel drive V-8 powered convertible cars in the wintertime.

Snow and ice on the roads in town, oh joy. I haven't had to deal with that in a while, and I suddenly remember some of the reasons I didn't head right back to the Midwest when I retired from the Navy. The Boat performed as well as expected, it is just as sure-footed in the slick stuff as I thought it would be.

We have a busy week ahead of ourselves, it is always good to see loved ones from far away and I plan on traveling a bit to see some of the uncles I haven't seen in a while. Everyone seems to be doing well.

On a side note, I missed the shindig in the Hoosier City this past weekend even though I was sort of in the area - at around 10:30 AM. Actually I was attempting to navigate my way around the Ohio River bridge being missing on I-64 in Louisville KY, but I did manage to make it on the road that way for a little bit during the detour. It looks like everyone had a good time.

And appropos of nothing I suppose, my last post was number 1000 here at the Refuge. You take your milestones where you can get them I guess.

08 December 2011

Down The Rabbit Hole

So I start checking the blogs out, as I do, and I get as far as here and read this...

and then I start following links...

and before you know it hours have been wasted.

I used to think it might be fun to have trolls, but now I'm content with being small time.

And amusingly enough, following the links led me full circle...

UPDATE: damn, I should have held off a bit...from MattG comes this link, and the best part of it is this in the comments;

I was disappointed after watching the video of Mariah Carey being covered by seamen; it's not what I was expecting.

I am a bad, bad man.

UPDATE II: Don't bother looking for the comment. I swam through 150 pages of Argentinians being assholes about the Falklands and didn't find it.

07 December 2011

Didn't See That Coming...Part II


Pearl Harbor Day

70 years ago today.

Eight battleships, three cruisers, three destroyers, a training ship, a minelayer, 188 aircraft and 2402 Americans died in fire and smoke. All but two of those battleships, USS Arizona and USS Oklahoma, were repaired and returned to service; Arizona still lays where she died and Oklahoma was lost on her way to the mainland under tow for repairs.

All of the other ships save one were also repaired and returned to service.  On the other side of Ford Island from Missouri the former battleship USS Utah, by then a training ship, still holds the last 54 members of her crew.

The Iowa class battleships were built afterwards, and joined their older sisters in avenging the lost. The war began on Arizona's decks and ended on Missouri's.

Today the Mighty Mo watches over the USS Arizona from the spot where USS Oklahoma died.

Traveling Man

I took the pony to work last night. I wasn't going to because it was supposed to rain, and I don't like putting the cover on a wet car. But when I stepped out the door and the temps were still in the high 60s, I just had to do it. This morning the temps were in the mid 60s and it was dry for the trip home, so I got a two-fer and was able to put the cover on it when I got home as well.

I had to take it out and enjoy it, the weather is getting colder for the rest of the week and I haven't had it out for over a week as it is. This weekend we're loading up the Banana Boat and heading for Iowa for a couple of weeks, where the lows are in single digits (Fahrenheit) and the highs aren't warm enough to melt ice. Not a good place for a Mustang convertible, but an AWD Subaru should be able to handle it just fine.

When we get back we will only be here for the week and then it's off to Florida for a week to see Eldest Daughter and Pop. Middle Daughter and hubby are taking the 'Boat, so I'll be forced to drive the Mustang. It looks like we'll be taking a trailer down, too, because Pop is adamant about emptying his garage out.

So I'm looking at a busy month, I'll be missing the Mustang club Christmas party, the company Christmas party, another Christmas party that a co-worker is throwing and a Mustang Forums get-together, all in the next two weeks. I was going to have to skip two of the parties anyway since they were all scheduled on the same night, but it will be good to get out and see the folks, not to mention Brother and Younger Sister.

I think it will be worth it.

04 December 2011

Thoughts on HR 822

From usacarry.com:

Though the bill passed by a wide margin, it was not without controversy on the pro-gun side of the debate. In previous alerts, GOA has pointed out several flaws in the legislation:

  • It forces Vermont residents (who do not need a permit to carry) to either obtain an out-of-state permit or to push their state to pass a more restrictive concealed carry law than it now enjoys;
  • By requiring permits for reciprocity, the bill undermines efforts at the state level to pass constitutional carry (i.e., Vermont-style carry);
  • In restrictive “may issue” states, the bill allows for non-residents to carry firearms in the state while most residents would still be prohibited, and;
  • The bill is yet another example of Congress distorting of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause.

My thoughts:

Point number one: it does nothing of the sort. Vermont, Alaska, Arizona and Wyoming can enact legislation to establish a permit for reciprocity purposes and specify that it is not required for in-state carry. The permit would likely have to follow the same guidelines as other states (training, background check, etc) in order to be acceptable to them, but there is nothing that says anyone has to have one for in-state carry.

And while we're at it...what's the difference from what they have now? They still have to get a non-resident out-of-state permit to be able to carry in other states, so this changes nothing for them.

Point number two: it does nothing of the sort. See Vermont, Alaska, Arizona and Wyoming above. There is nothing keeping other states from adopting the same type of legislation abolishing the requirement of permits for in-state carry while offering an optional concealed permit for reciprocity purposes. When all the States have Constitutional Carry they can all opt to abandon their permits since no one will ever need one.

Point number three: sounds like a good reason for residents of that state (coff*illinois*coff) to either change their own state laws or move to a less freedom-hating state. Maybe seeing people travel from state to state  without turning the whole country into the "Wild Wild West" will help them get over their irrational fear.

Point number four: bs. It is the Congress telling the States "You see that part in the Tenth Amendment where it says "nor prohibited by it to the States"? Long overdue in my opinion, and it would be nice if Congress could extend the idea of Second Amendment protection over their own areas of responsibility while they are at it...like DC, where the Congress is supposed to be the city government as well as the Federal government.

Bottom line, there is nothing in this bill that the pro-gun people can't live with, and a lot that they can like. As for the rest of you...well, I guess if you gotta have something to complain about to make you happy...

One of the Representatives that voted against the bill was Rob Woodall (R-GA) who had this to say:

“If the Second Amendment protects my rights to carry my concealed weapon from state to state to state, I don’t need another federal law,” Rep. Woodall said.

Absolutely right Rep. Woodall. If. If if if if if. So, tell me, where is your legislation demanding the States all comply with the Second Amendment, to include the District of Columbia?


Yeah. Well, if flies carried .45's...

Further on down there is this little tidbit:

Even worse, you can be sure that anti-gunners will use any excuse, including this study, to push for some type of national carry license.

Oooh! Bring it on! Every anti that I've ever talked to, without fail, says something about drivers licenses whenever this subject comes up. But let's get to the forefront of this debate. We have to lead this horse, not let it trample us. Sure, make us get a license...that is valid any time, any place, any kind of carry, and any firearm I wish to tote.

The license has to be affordable (like driver's licenses) and the requirements to get one cannot be too arduous (like drivers' licenses). The license is only required when you are off private property, whether that be your own or others that you are on with permission, like a drivers license (you don't need one to drive around your neighbors pasture if you have his permission).

I can live with a required class and a proficiency test like a drivers license, and I'll agree to a background check. The fees can't be too ridiculous, and the required class has to be waived for people over the age of 18 as long as they can show proficiency (like a drivers license). In return I get to carry concealed or open, I get to carry anywhere I go; no more restrictions for Government buildings, State parks, banks and all of that nonsense. ALL other firearms laws, Federal, State and local, are abolished.

Not good enough for you? OK, I'll agree to a special endorsement, like a CDL, for fully automatic weapons that require additional training. I can live with that. Once again, the requirements cannot be overly arduous...and that means financially as well. Oh, by the way...that means I get to actually own fully automatic weapons. I'll even agree that I can't tote them off my own or others private property loaded and uncased unless I have the endorsement on my license. Fair is fair, after all.

(Let me have this one and I'll have a pintle-mount for a .50 on the Baja in short order...)

And by the way...no, you can't have a registry of any guns. Forget it. Yes I know cars have license plates. So what. You still can't have a registry of any guns. We're talking about a license to carry, like a drivers license, not license plates for cars. I can have a license to drive and not own a car, so there.

The antis might talk a good show about a national license, but none of them that I have made the above proposal to really wants to fall down that rabbit hole.

Now if we can get Constitutional carry in all 50 States and the District of Columbia like the Second Amendment says I'll be a happy camper. But until then, this bill is a step in the right direction.

Let There Be Lights

The outside lights have been put up.

There are fewer candy canes this year. I will have to find some more. At one time there were enough to line the walkway, but through the years they have been broken and not replaced.

Today would have been our 18th anniversary.

03 December 2011


Herman Cain has called it quits.

I can't say I blame him, he's been getting hit pretty hard with the Bimbo Eruption, and he's decided he doesn't want to put himself or his family through any more of it.

I wish him well in all of his future endeavors.

02 December 2011

The Narrative

I don't usually listen to Hannity on the radio. Nothing against him, he is successful in his chosen field and I wish him the best. He just isn't one of my favorite talk show hosts.

I usually only get about 15 minutes of his show as I'm driving to work, and I can usually only last through five of it or so if he has a caller. The other day he had some guy on who couldn't argue with anything he was saying, exactly, he just didn't like the way it was being said.

This has always annoyed me.  For the life of me I can't figure how we're supposed to stop talking about how you are screwed up like a soup sandwich as soon as I point it out. At that point the conversation should be about how to take the soup out of your sandwich, not about how rude it is for me to point out the chicken and noodles dripping off of your bread.

You don't like it being pointed out to you that you are an incompetent moron. I get that. Now here's a solution for you, instead of complaining about how I'm telling you that you are a mo-tard, how about you stop being one and then both of our problems will be solved.

You can't spell "Fix Yourself" without an F-U.

01 December 2011

Happy Day

As noted below, HB650 takes effect today in North Carolina.

Sean has done the heavy lifting. Go on over there and see what it's all about.

Shooting The Message

In an odd turnabout of the messenger being the cause for the message's demise, there has been a bit of a flap recently in the north of Hoosierville.

It seems that there is a miscreant about, carrying on in a fashion that had certain locals deciding that they have had quite enough of that.

To that end a movement was born, a movement designed to remind said miscreant that the citizens of the Hoosier State enjoy the protections afforded by the carry of personal arms.

Being residents of said village, and being somewhat in the way of toters themselves, this movement was Occupied, as it were, by Tam and Bobbi, who both proclaimed the event a success.

However. Yep, there is always a however.

It seems as if one of the event creators is himself a bit of a bad boy, and that has cast a shadow over the entire affair in the eyes of more than a few.

So this raises the question, is the event now tainted because of the actions of one of it's creators, or is the thought bigger than the thinker? It has happened before, you know - witness Volkswagen, that grew out of the desire of a certain German Chancellor for his Volks to have a wagen they could afford. Fast-forward to the present, the odious little Austrian has long since been relegated to the dustbin of history and VW is still proving that the Fahrvergn├╝gen is greater that the sum of it's creator.

The most unfortunate part of this is that the gentle and gracious Bobbi has had to endure the slings and arrows of outrageous commenting, and as a result she has hung a "Members Only" sign up on the door to her place. You can look in, but if you want to join the crowd you have to prove you aren't the kind to piddle on the rug.  I'm happy to say that I have made the cut, and as a side note this is one of the reasons my comments have always been moderated.

I have high hopes for Occupy Broad Ripple with Guns. I think it is also an idea that is greater than it's creator, and I hope that it will take wings and fly free from the controversy that has covered it. The momentum is going in the right direction; we have reciprocity nationally and here at home HB 650 takes effect today, much to the wailing and gnashing of teeth of the usual suspects. OBRwG is an idea that deserves to prosper.

Even if it's creator is a tubby midwestern Nazi.

You have no idea how badly I would like to link just that comment, but you will have to scroll down to find it.

26 November 2011

Ammo Day Payoff

100 rounds of PCI 6.5x50 144 grain FMJ is currently residing in my gun safe.

25 November 2011

The Day After

I was up early today after all the napping yesterday.

Believe it or not, I'm cooking a turkey.

Son-In-Law and Middle Daughter went and got all the fixin's for a turkey with stuffing but we ended up going out for Thanksgiving dinner/supper.  That means we don't have leftovers, and Son-In-Law was bemoaning the fact that we wouldn't have turkey for sandwiches and such.

Since the bird has been in the fridge and not the freezer he is all thawed out. That means he has to be cooked before he goes bad, he can't be re-frozen and saved for Christmas. I'm not doing anything today, I have a whole slew of shows on the DVR that I haven't watched, so Mr. Tom will bake merrily away while I catch up on zombies and Sanctuaries, with a helping of Hell On Wheels thrown in for good measure.

So, I have pies on the table and a turkey in the oven, and it feels somehow like I've lost a day...

24 November 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Remember those who serve.

23 November 2011


Have they flown to some new Weyr
Where cruel Threads some others fear?
Are they worlds away from here?
Why, oh, why, the empty Weyr?

Anne Inez McCaffrey, 1 April 1926 – 21 November 2011

22 November 2011


When I looked at this the first thing I noticed is that she had her finger on the trigger.

Seriously. That really was the first thing I noticed.

Sigh. They say the mind is the second thing to go...damned if I can remember what was first...

Super Committee FAIL

This is my shocked face.

19 November 2011


Today is spaghetti and meatballs day at the Refuge, just because it hasn't been for a while. This is actually surprising given my affection for the Holy Noodle.

That's a joke, son. Lighten up.

My cooking is more about the combining of pre-prepared ingredients, most of them bought that way rather than prepared from raw ingredients, than it is about scratch-building. None of my recipes start out with "Slaughter the cow..."

My mother now, she was an old Nebraska farm girl and she makes everything from scratch. Heck, she even makes the scratch! That's just the way it was when she was growing up. We live in the time of convenience. But I digress.

My meatballs start out with ground Italian sausage, in the heat range most desired by those who will consume said meatballs. My own preference is hot, but I am regularly over-ruled. Barbarians, they are. Anyway, I combine the Italian sausage with an equal measure of ground meat, usually beef but occasionally pork, and once upon a time venison...mmmm, venison...

Sorry. Where was I? Oh yes, meatballs.

At any rate, combine the Italian sausage and hamburger, stir in eggs (one per pound) and enough bread crumbs (I use Italian) to stiffen the mixture back up. Roll into 1" to 1 1/2" balls between the palms of your hands and chuck them into a pot of boiling water (yes, I boil my meatballs, and I have occasionally been known to bake ribs when it's too damn cold to stand in front of the grille for an hour) for ten minutes or so, then transfer them to the pot of sauce you have bubbling on the side-burner for about an hour longer. Serve over freshly boiled noodles, and there you have it.

Today's ensemble was accompanied by steaks on the grille, because I had them thawed and didn't cook them yesterday like I was going to.

18 November 2011

National Ammo Day

Saturday is National Ammo Day.

Graf's has 6.5x50 Japanese for $21.99/box of 20 (PCI).

I'm out of 6.5x50.

Looks like I'll be ordering some on Saturday. I'll shell out for 100 rounds, it's about all I can afford this close to Christmas. If it isn't enough to make Sarah Brady cry I hope it's at least enough to make her rub her eyes a time or two.

I really have to find someone to reload this for me. A quick round of calculations shows that I can get everything I need to reload the brass (if I have it) for about 35 cents a round as opposed to the buck ten a round to buy it new, 87 cents if I have to pony up for the brass, using each case four times averages out to about 47 cents per round.

Of course the "someone to reload this for me" will tell me that I should get a reloading rig of my own. If I had known this hobby was going to get so expensive I would have stuck to model trains.

17 November 2011


The other day at work my workmate was telling me about his brother in law who is anal retentive about everything except, apparently, Rule 2.

Today at Gun Nuts Media I ran across this little gem.

14 November 2011

Practice Makes Perfect

Let's talk about practice.

I've been dry-firing for a while now and I can see that I am a whole lot quicker at coming up on target, and the sights stay nice and steady when I squeeze the trigger. Whether or not that translates to holes in the middle of the black at 25 yds remains to be seen.

But this is not about that.

For those of you that shoot in competition this may be something that you normally do, but what about those of us who don't shoot competition and just carry to be more prepared for that which may come?

How often do you practice your draw? Magazine changes/speed loads? If you normally carry concealed, do you tuck or not? How does that affect your accessibility to your weapon? If you carry openly in a SERPA how often do you practice unlocking that latch? Can you do it consistently without putting your digits into the trigger guard?

Can you put your paw all the way around the grip of your piece when it is in your carry holster? If it is an IWB rig can you get your fingers around the grip? How often do you practice draw from concealed? How often does your shirt get in the way? Do you practice for that?

Yesterday I decided I'd trade up a bit to make things more interesting, and boy did it make things more interesting. I had been practicing with my OWB holster, but I usually carry in my Galco Tuck-N-Go IWB. Much to my dismay drawing from the IWB is a much different experience.

The main issue is that the gun rides inside the waistband, so to draw effectively I have to get my thumb in position between my ample self and the grip, squeeze the grip against my palm and lift the pistol up enough to wrap my fingers around the rest of the grip. This takes time, and was something I had not practiced for until then.

The second issue is the shirt. When I carry concealed I generally carry un-tucked. I found by happy coincidence that if I grabbed the bottom of the shirt and lifted just right my left hand was in exactly the right position for the grip.

The problem is that I had better have let the shirt go as soon as I got the fingers of my right hand around the grip, otherwise it was going to be right in the way.

Having a weapon is like having a fire extinguisher or an insurance policy. It's something you have and pray that you never need. But, you do check your extinguishers regularly, and you have thoroughly read your policy, right?

It's a funny thing, I got my CWP just so I wouldn't have to get permission to buy a pistol. I didn't realize it was going to be such an integrated part of my life. I guess this is how one gets to be an activist. (I blame James and Sean, and give thanks to both - James for getting me into serious shooting in the first place and Sean for upping the ante.)

Muchos grassy-ass to Tam for this link.

12 November 2011

A Day At The Races

For Veterans Day I took the Firefly up to Virginia International Raceway to participate in their Holiday Laps.

The way it works is you donate $25 cash or a toy worth $25 and you get a session on the track consisting of 20-25 minutes of laps behind the pace car.

It's a fun way to stretch the car out without worrying about oncoming traffic or Johnny Law, and we had a ball.
More photos can be found here.

UPDATE: Edited to add the second session picture and the video.

10 November 2011


Happy 236th.

09 November 2011

Fun Facts

Less than 4% of the worlds population are natural redheads. Most of them are Irish or Scottish.

The gene for red hair is recessive, and must be present in both parents.

Redheads are harder to sedate, often requiring up to 20% more anesthesia.

Redheads do not go gray. Their hair turns ash blonde and then white, and does so later in life than brunettes or blondes who turn gray.

The color red enhances a viewer's metabolism and increases heart rate and respiration.

Two of Hollywood's most well known redheads are Lucille Ball and Christina Hendricks. Neither are natural redheads, Lucille Ball was a brunette and Christina Hendricks would be a blonde.

More women dye their hair red (30%) than blonde (27%) or brunette (26%).

Much like baconz, redheads make everything better.  Much like beer, redheads are proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. (I may have made these two up, but this does not negate their obvious truthiness.)

More redhead facts can be found here.

06 November 2011

Didn't See That Coming...

Remember how the news was full of stories regarding Operation Fast N' Furious?

And remember how everyone was wondering what it was all about?

I know no one expected this!

Gotta go to work now.  At least that WAS expected.

HT: Ace of Spades HQ

05 November 2011

On The Grill

Eldest Son brought a deer shoulder home a couple of weeks ago and it had been residing in the freezer until Wednesday.

Today I put it on the grille, rubbed with spices and wrapped in tinfoil, turning after 45 minutes at a time, for about four and a half hours.


04 November 2011

I Blame Correia

I went to buy the new Grimnoir Chronicles book last night because for some unknown reason it didn't make it into my Amazon pre-order. I don't know how I missed it, but I did.

So, since I absolutely had to have this book, off I went.

Then I saw a Discworld book I didn't have...

and then there was this steampunk book that I had read reviews on...

(note: don't get that one until you get this one. I need to get it now.)

and then there was a Jules Verne book in the mark-down bin...

and then they had the new Goodkind book at 50% off...

and then my B&N membership was up for renewal...

so I'm out a bit over a hundred clams and I got absolutely nothing done after that.

It was awesome.

02 November 2011

I Did Not Know This Man

but he was well regarded by those who's opinions I have learned to trust.

If indeed the true mark of a man is the number of lives he has managed to touch, then William the Coroner was indeed a man among men.

Rest well William. Fair winds and following seas.

01 November 2011

Gun Control

I'd almost move to South Carolina just so that I could vote for this guy to be my Sheriff.

In a press conference where he was telling the story of a woman who was attacked by a sexual predator, Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright urged women to walk in groups and get concealed weapons permits.

Wright said in his view, gun control "is when you can get your barrel back on the target quick. That’s gun control."

He has a point...

HT: KC O'Day, Morning Rush, Rush Radio 106.1 FM

Burning Irony

Submitted without further comment:

"Nick Hommen, 29, a volunteer from Salem, Ore., who was handling donations, said some demonstrators were taking advantage of people’s generosity.
“We can’t afford to keep buying new tents. It’s ridiculous the sense of entitlement people feel,” Hommen said."

HT: Bob Owens

29 October 2011

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

"I'd sooner trust Joseph M'bekebeke in a Lagos internet cafe with this information than I would a bunch of guys with snappy uniforms and lots of guns. At least if Joseph decides to use the information to find me and rough me up, he's got to come up with the scratch for airfare first."


Notes For Trainers

either real or imagined:

1) Disparaging remarks about the training I have just received and the trainers that provided it will not convince me that I need to train with you.

2) If I ask you what you teach, I expect an answer. A question is not an answer. Asking me what I want to know is a question, the answer being "I want to know what you teach" which, oddly enough, was the original question.

3) If you can offer "the same class" at 1/3 the price I will probably expect 1/3 the training, either in facilities or in experience. In your case I would assume both.


Laptops are so nice. I can lay in bed with my laptop and surf to my heart's content.

Grandma-in-law is up from Florida for her chance to spoil Grandson. Too bad the weather is not cooperating, Thursday was warm and sunny and 78 but when she showed up Friday a cold front had begun it's approach. Wet and cold, high of 54, expected to be that way through the weekend until she leaves.

Time to get up I suppose, do my dry-fire exercises and get something going for breakfast.

28 October 2011

Rule Number One

of gunfights is "have a gun."

Tam had a link to a story a couple of days back about a fellow caught in a bad situation.  Fortunately it all ended well, bad guy in jail, good guy bloodied but unbroken, innocents unharmed, and the baby Jesus smiles.

I left the comment that here in NC it is likely I would have been unarmed since I cannot have my hardware on me if I am partaking in the suds at all, but it was another comment by Ulises from CA that kind of caught my attention.

How many of you carry inside your own home?  I do if I'm dressed, but if I am in my jammies sitting at the computer (as happens often late at night on the nights I'm off work) the heat is in the next room over.

This afternoon I walked out of my bedroom and Youngest Daughter asked me if I was going anywhere. When I said no, she pointed out that I was wearing my double-mag holster.  I told her I had been wearing it all along, and Son In Law remarked "He's been dressed all day!"

Good boy.

26 October 2011

Fundamentals, Executed Perfectly

Dry fire exercise, when properly performed, is exercise.

A couple of things I have learned just from the past three days (Sunday, Tuesday and today; I missed Monday afternoon and had to make it up Tuesday morning) of dry fire exercise:

My trigger control is getting better. I still occasionally pull off, particularly when I have been at it for a while and am getting tired, but it doesn't happen nearly as often, even after only three days.

My forearms ache. Properly executing that grip puts quite a bit of strain on the muscles in the left forearm, particularly when you are gripping as tightly as (humanly possible) you are supposed to.

The grip is the foundation on which all the other control methods build. Properly executed the grip allows everything else to fall into place. This may sound simplistic, but believe me it came as quite a revelation after only a couple of days worth of dry firing when I suddenly realized my sight picture and trigger control were improving.

Concentrating on sight picture rather than the target is harder than it sounds. I have had to do it without my glasses, or by looking through bottoms of the bifocals, because when I wear my straight lenses the sights are too close and they blur. Curse my old eyes! It looks like I will have to bow to the inevitable and ditch the straight lenses all together.

Ten minutes doesn't seem like much, but after five I am ready to quit. I have to force myself to finish, and when I have to force myself to finish I also have to force myself to do things the right way. Training consists of forcing yourself to do things the right way while you have the time so that when you don't have the time you will do things the right way automatically.

Stance. Grip. Presentation. Sights. Blur the target. Trigger control. Follow through.
Stance. Grip. Presentation. Sights. Blur the target. Trigger control. Follow through.
Stance. Grip. Presentation. Sights. Blur the target. Trigger control. Follow through.

Am I leaving anything out?

Some Nights

it just doesn't pay to get out of bed.

I'm going to go drink myself to sleep now and forget last night ever happened.

(It wasn't like that. I work nights.)

23 October 2011

All In Perspective

Now that I've had time to sleep on it I am still disappointed in my performance yesterday, but I know how to fix it so that's what I'm going to do.

When I was at the height of my disgust with myself I said I was going to take up a different hobby, like needlepoint. That was never going to happen, of course.

I started the day with ten minutes of draw, reload and dry-fire exercises.  This will be my normal daily routine from now on.

I know how to get better. I will get better. I know how to do it now.

And as an aside note I am looking for a Glock 9mm that fits my hand like the G36.  Is there one? Suggestions? Yes, it must be a Glock since that is what I carry, and I want it in nine for its inexpensive feeding habits.

UPDATE: It looks like the Glock 26 and the 36 are very comparable in size. Does anyone have one that they would be willing to comment on?

22 October 2011

Train Like You Fight

and fight like you train (except for Sean S. No one wants to see that).

I used to hear that a lot from the Chiefs, and they are right. What you learn to do in training is what you will do under pressure, and if what you learned is wrong (or if you never learned the right way at all) you will do it wrong when it counts.  Training is all about practicing how to do it right.

The bad news is I have trained myself how to do a lot of things wrong. The good news is now I know what I have to do to fix it.

Among the things I learned:

Serpa holsters, to borrow a phrase, are miserable balls of suck and fail when it comes time to rapidly draw. No I didn't shoot myself in the leg (never even came close) but having to activate the release certainly delayed my presentation. It is now in the box of rejected holsters.

My Grok does not like to go through more than about 100 to 150 rounds of white box Winchester before it wants to be cleaned.  I got a lot of practice clearing malfunctions. Good for the training I suppose, but not so good for the shooting.

Doing it the right way includes a lot of things you have to think about in the proper order, and by the time we had worked up to number three or four my brain was frazzled.

Doing it the right way hurts in places I didn't know I had.

Practice, practice, practice.

I need to shoot more.

If you ever get a chance to attend the basic pistol class at Tigerswan, leap at the opportunity.  It's money well spent. Just be warned, if you don't shoot a lot, or if you have never taken a formal class, be prepared to be humbled.  These guys are good, and they will show you how to be good, too.

All in all it was great getting to put faces to names, the camaraderie was good, and the training was, too. There were six bloggers including your humble scribe and four non-bloggers, including a father/daughter team in which Daughter out-shot Father and Father is all kinds of proud over it.

Bloggers in attendance were Sean Sorrentino of An NC Gun Blog who was also the instigator of all this madness, John R. of No Lawyers, Only Guns and Money, fellow former Tomcat airdale squid Rich from Knitebane Manor,  fellow vintage military bolt action rifle aficionado Paul from Arms are the Mark of a Free Man, and George from Newbie Shooter. Those worthy gentlemen who were not previously on the blogroll (John, Rich and George) are now there.

Also in attendance were husband/wife Sean and Lynell (who don't have a blog, they make them) and retired Army Special Forces medic George and his daughter Erika who, as I mentioned above, had a very good day.

And now, if you don't mind, I'm off to get a bit of the shut-eye. I really shouldn't, I have to work tomorrow night and I really should stay up all night tonight so I can sleep tomorrow, but I've been up since 4 AM and I'm about to fall over.

I hope your day was equally productive.

21 October 2011

One More Day

Tomorrow at 0400 (that's 4:00 AM for you cake-eating civilians) the alarm will sound off. I will rise from my bed rested and refreshed (yeah right) to begin the day with a smile on my face and a song in my heart (but not right away).

Estimated time of departure from the Refuge is 0430. At or about 0600 I will link up with the rest of the group in Garner NC for the trek south to lovely Fayetteville NC. Our destination: TigerSwan.

There we will all participate in shooty goodness until approximately 1700, then we will depart for Garner once more. We have plans to meet for supper during which I imagine much laughter and the telling of tales both short and tall will occur.

I will be wearing The Coolest Shirt In The Gunosphere from the beginning of this operation until its conclusion for the after-shooty gathering.

It should be a great day and I'm looking forward to it. Much thanks to Sean of An NC Gun Blog for arranging this class.

EDIT TO ADD: Roberta X reminds us that the world ends today.  I'm hoping it ends quietly, 4 AM comes awful early in the morning.

20 October 2011

A Dearth Of Postings

It's been a busy week at work.  Somebody's gotta do it.

In that vein, I have a suggestion for you Occupy asshats. Think about this, your big beef is that government is controlled by corporations, and your solution is...more government?  And you seriously don't see anything wrong with that?

And on that note, you Occupy jackwagons should be Occupying Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC. Before you do though you might want to pick up a history book circa 1920 or so, or even better still, google the terms "Hooverville" and "Bonus Army" to see how that all works out.

In the end, as a certain AoSHQ moron is wont to say, there will be only chaos.

And now I'm off to bed.  I have to take Eldest Son to a dental appointment today and then this Saturday I get to go have some more fun.

There will be an After-Action Report filed...after.

17 October 2011


Bob Owens is mothballing Confederate Yankee and moving over to a new self-named blog.  The links on the sidebar have been changed accordingly.

Confederate Yankee will remain up as an archive.


The Mission Isn't Over

 until the wheels are in the chocks.

Sunday dawned bright and, should I say it? Sunny! and cold.

The dashboard thermometer read 47 degrees so I opted to leave the top firmly up and the heater on for the first part of the trip.

Three of us were heading back to Hickory , so we opted to travel together.  We stopped to fuel up and discussed our route, and it turned out
that none of us were quite ready to go home just yet.

Instead we headed up alongside the Nantahala River on Highway 74 to Cherokee and got on the Blue Ridge Parkway towards Asheville from there.

We didn't quite make it to Asheville, though. In a search for facilities we got off on NC state road 215 heading south and found a treasure.
SR215 twists and winds from the Blue Ridge down to Highway 64, and we decided the ride was just as much fun as the Dragon had been the day before.

We made a quick stop for lunch at Brevard and
caught Interstate 26 just past there, and then on to Interstate 40 and finally split up in Hickory bound for our respective homes.

When the trip was through I had 945 miles on the trip meter and had been away for two full

I certainly needed the break, and I'm looking forward to the next time we go run the Dragon.

16 October 2011

Tail of the Dragon

Friday night I went to Hickory and stayed the night. Being the night shift creature that I am I didn't get much in the way of sleep, but what I did get was a great help the next day.

Saturday dawned bright and clear, and the group gathered for departure. We had seven cars all together, including one other 5.0 convertible. It was a bit chilly to put the top down right away...but I did anyway.

We headed out and met some more folks at
 Ashville, and from there we continued on to the Fontana Dam.  We met the rest of our group there, and when all was said and done we had twenty six Mustangs and two motorcycles.

We went through the patch of road known as Moonshiner 28 and hit the Dragon at Deals Gap.  We went on across the Dragon and stopped for some pictures, then made our way to the Cherohala Skyway.

We stopped for supper in Robbinsville and then
 went on to Murphy to stay the night. By then I had a little more than 500 miles on the clock and had only managed a few hours sleep, so I was pretty much done for the day. The driver behind me on the way to Murphy said I was back and forth across the road quite a bit, I do know I heard the rumble strips more than once.

A bit of sleep set me to rights, and we gathered the next morning for the trip home. It was a great ride, and it was nice seeing old friends and making new ones.

FYI, the Hampton in Murphy NC does not have wifi in the rooms, only in the lobby. I have more pictures and as soon as I get them uploaded I'll put the link here. you can find them here.

14 October 2011

Don't Let The Weatherman Shine Your Shoes

Because apparently he doesn't know sh!t from shoe polish.

All week long I've heard about how the clouds and precipitation were going to clear out overnight Thursday and Friday was going to dawn bright and clear and the temperature was going to climb to near 80.

Right now the sky is overcast and drizzly and they have modified their high temperature prediction in the last 12 hours to mid 70's.

And then they wonder why the unwashed masses have doubts that the world will be destroyed by the onslaught of global warming cooling climate change.

The Countdown Starts: TotD Edition

I'll be heading out tonight for Hickory NC, and in the morning I'll be going on to the Tail of the Dragon.

This will be an all day affair, and I'll have the camera along but I don't know how much chance I'll get to use it.  My photographer went and got himself into trouble this week so he will be staying home.

Maybe I'll be able to pick up a ride-along when I get there...

I will have the laptop along so I'll be making reports from the road.

After action report...after.

13 October 2011

A Day At The Range

Any day spent making noise and smoke is, by definition, a good one.

The Saiga conversion works wonderfully, and the rifle has been sighted in again.  I really didn't notice much difference in the fun quotient, shooting it was always a blast but the trigger conversion seems to make mag swaps faster.  I was worried the bolt hold-back lever would interfere with the trigger finger, but I trimmed it off as per the instructions before I put it back in and I never even noticed it.

The Arisaka has been sighted in for azimuth and I think I have figured in the right amount of Tennessee elevation to at least get all the holes on the paper. I love this little rifle and I'm looking forward to shooting it - badly, most likely - in the Vintage Military Bolt Action Rifle events.  The down side is that it is so expensive to feed.

The Mosin shoots right in the middle where it should be.  The gel buttstock pad has tamed the kick down magnificently, and after 25 rounds fired I did not feel like stabbing Nazis. In fact, the shoulder does not hurt at all.  I highly recommend the Shooterpad gel filled recoil pads.  I ended up not having to adjust the sights at all, I was worried that I had moved the front sight but that wasn't the case. I'm going to be shooting this one in the VMBAR events as well. Likewise as badly, I'm sure.

And finally, I have figured out the issues I was having with shooting the Glock, and after putting almost a hundred rounds through it today I have a large sized hole in the middle of the target right where it should be. I'm really looking forward to this class next weekend, I'm thinking I'll learn a lot and my shooting will improve dramatically as a result of it.

The only two bad things that happened today is I left the Mosin's cleaning rod at the range and when cleaning the guns before putting them away I knocked an almost full bottle of Hoppes #9 on the floor.

The good news is the cleaning rods are readily available so if I can't retrieve the one I left at the range it won't take much to get another one, and now my kitchen revels in the perfume that is Hoppes #9.

UPDATE: My range partner picked up the cleaning rod for me so I don't have to order another one. Whew!

Hey, I got to go shooting today. Nothing bad can happen the rest of the day!

12 October 2011

First Car Meme

1. What was your first car? Model, year, color, condition?
2. What adventures did you have in it, good or bad?
3. What happened to it, what’s the end of the story?

I got it from Miguel at Gun Free Zone who got it from Rock In A Sea Of Chaos who got it from Jay G, but it started here.  

And now, without further ado, I present to you...the 1972 Fiat 128 saloon! (music, confetti, applause)

Now the first car I drove was a 1973 Mercury Marquis Brougham, and oh what a car that was! It was the family car, though, and Dad sold it off before I got overly attached to it.

Just before selling the Merc Dad bought a white 74 Fiat 128 with serious front fender rot that had been poorly repaired with fiberglass matting and a bad clutch. One Thanksgiving we pulled the tranny before dinner and reinstalled it with a new clutch right after desert.  Soon afterwards he got this one from my high-school driver's ed instructor. It was green, and by green I mean US Army olive drab green. When we got it the wheels were yellow. Revolting doesn't begin to describe it.  Otherwise the car was in exceptionally good shape, especially for a car that had spent 10 years in Midwest winters.  Did I mention the driver's ed instructor and the auto shop instructor were good friends?

He bought these two cars because we needed a way to haul six of us around more economically than the aforementioned glorious Mercury (which sucked down dino juice at a truly alarming rate with its 428 V-8 motor...damn but I loved that car), and we could actually drive two Fiats cheaper than one Mercury. It had a bad shudder whenever you would try to back up with it and it would eat rear tires like they were free.  Dad figured out that the clutch cable adjustment was causing the shudder, and after several unsuccessful trips to the alignment shop he and I finally got the alignment straight on the rear end of the car using a carpenter's square and a tape measure as our alignment tools.

For about a year everywhere clan Card went we went in two Fiat automobiles.  That eventually turned out to be more trouble than it was worth, though (I think my mother's opinion strongly reinforced this decision), so a 78 Pontiac Grand Safari station wagon (we bought it at a state auction, it was silver and thankfully did not have the fake wood trim) soon replaced the Fiats. My older sister got the white 74 and the green 72 was MINE!!!

The first "mod" was to paint those hideous yellow wheels silver, which I did often (whenever yellow would show) and without removing the tires. The second "mod" was to install speakers on the rear deck for the AM radio. My sister's 74 broke a clutch cable and left her stranded right before she moved away and Dad junked that car, but before he did I snatched the tan interior (which was in far better shape than my black one) out of it. I should have got her motor, too, it was bigger, but I didn't have a place to do it.

Then came an under-dash FM radio/cassette player, and boy wasn't I rock-n-rolling then!  The local A&W was having some sort of promotional at the time (they were more like Sonics then, with in-car dining and car-hops) where they were giving away these little multi-colored puff-ball critters with googly eyes and big feet and funny hats, I made instruments for them to "play" out of card stock and stuck them on the rear package panel between and all over the speakers to make my own band.  And what a band it was, too, there was nothing they couldn't play!

I drove it about a year, from halfway through my junior year to halfway through my senior year in high school. This car never met a dirt road it didn't like, in any kind of weather. I never even once got this car stuck, and one of the trips we made was down a mud farm road to a fishing pond. The guy behind us in the 4wd truck didn't make it. It was just so light that it wouldn't sink into the mud.  It was also good at whipping 180's on the gravel roads, just pop off the throttle in second gear and jerk the parking brake up when you slung the wheel to the left, slam the throttle and the brake lever back down and just like magic you were in the other lane going the other way.  Very useful in the games of auto tag...that I lost horribly any other way (don't try this at home, kids).

Certain other adventures were classified, and are likely to remain so. Suffice it to say that my girlfriend's dad hated the huge Mercury with its front bench seat that could seat four teenagers across, but he liked the tiny Fiat with its front bucket seats that could hardly fit four teenagers in front and back seats together. He really shouldn't have.

The top speed, downhill with a tail wind, was a bit over 90 MPH, which we achieved regularly just to see if it could still do it.  The Weber carburetor was water cooled and heated, the engine coolant circulated not only through the intake manifold but also through the carb. On cold Iowa mornings the car wouldn't even attempt to start even though I plugged in the block heater every night without fail. I parked it on top of the hill and coasted down in the morning, when I got about halfway down the hill I'd pop the clutch out in second gear and the car would finally start by the time we got to the bottom...usually. When it didn't it was a long walk to school.  In the winter I would have to block the radiator off with a piece of cardboard that had a 4" square in the middle of it to keep the Weber from icing up. In the spring and fall I'd have to start and end the day with the cardboard in place and pull it out in the afternoons when the temperature had climbed to keep the engine from overheating. Yes it had a thermostat, but that seemed to be more of an accessory than an actual functioning part.

It also ate clutch cables with distressing regularity (that must have been a feature of the 128, remember that's what my sisters car had gotten junked for) and I got real good at fishing a piece of bicycle cable through the clutch cable sheath and securing it at both ends with cable clamps (in fact this little car helped me to hone many of my mechanical skills) until I could get to Omaha, 70 miles away, which is where the nearest Fiat dealer was, and order a new one. Two or three weeks later I'd drive back to Omaha and pick it up, install it in the parking lot at the dealers (about 15 minutes and a Crescent wrench) and drive home. (That's the way we did things before the Internet, kids, there was no ordering online and having it delivered to the door. That's one of the great things about living in the modern age.)  I never got smart enough to just buy two and keep one as a spare, but they were too damn expensive to do that anyway - especially since my career at the time included hair nets and name tags and the cooking of do-you-want-fries-with-that.

Eventually rust claimed the attach point of the front suspension sway bar on the right side and both front inner fenders cracked from the bottoms to the tops. The entire front end of the car would pitch up when I accelerated and pitch back down when I braked, and occasionally the right front tire would pop back and hit the firewall when I hit the brakes hard. I would have to pop the clutch to get the wheel back where it belonged.

As soon as my Dad saw that he declared the car unsafe to drive (which it certainly was) and decreed that it would no longer take up space in his driveway.  I bought a 67 Chevy pickup from Dad (for practically nothing and sold it back when I shipped out) and Frog went to the junk man who had the same car in a 3 door station wagon that had been munched in the rear. He was planning on sawing the back of this car off between the doors and welding it to the front of the wagon (which he would saw off just in front of the rear wheels) to make a stretched limo, and even he didn't know why.  Whether or not he got it done I don't know, I shipped out to the Navy the very next winter and only went back to visit after that.

If he ever did get it done the back half of that car might still be roaming the roads in Southwest Iowa, if it didn't find its way to a beer can factory instead.  The junk yard is long gone (as is the A&W) and I don't have any idea where the junk man is, so there isn't any way to tell.

Rest in peace Frog. You sucked, but I still remember you with the degree of fondness reserved only for first cars.

(Youngest Daughter thinks this car is CUTE! but then again, her "first" car was a Dodge Aries station wagon.)