Gi-Gi-Giddy-Up!

In the spring of 2013 it was time to get a new ride. Up to that time I had been driving sport utility vehicles with four wheel drive, so as to be able to “go” no matter what the weather offered. Most SUV’s offer a goodly amount of practicality, but after about 15 years of being practical, I had a change in the state of my mind.

The brand decision of my next conveyance was made. It had to be domestic, it had to be from a manufacturer that did not take President Obama’s offered buyout (said buyout forcing citizens to, in effect, buy GM and Chrysler), and aside from brand loyalty, it had to be a good looking coupe, and be considered a “driver’s” car.

Those criteria defined the maker to be Ford, good-looking coupe meant Mustang, and the “driver’s car” part put me squarely into the 5.0 liter GT with six-speed manual transmission camp.

I started trolling the local Ford dealerships for THE ONE. Initially, I was in no great hurry, because the best time to buy a car is when you don’t absolutely need to buy a car.

Then, like Custer, galloping blithely through the Greasy Grass, I was ambushed by the Sioux Nation of potentially very expensive transmission “may be beginning to slip” noises. This occurrence portended a bloody massacre of my truck, bank account, and serenity. To minimize casualties I became a hecka bunch more motivated to trade my Explorer Sport.

For the preceding 10 years I had all but driven the wheels off this great little truck. It had taken all the muddy, icy, snowiness I could throw at it and at one time was submerged to the top of the wheel wells for three days during the 2010 flood that crippled Nashville. Given its age, mileage and experiences It still looked good, and (except for the scary noises it was beginning to make) performed with flawless truck goodness. I loved my truck, but like a significant other that had slid into the depths of some heinous addiction and begun to act-out with embarrassingly rude and potentially dangerous idiocy , it was time to re-evaluate that love and to stop the madness. It was time to amp-up the urgency and get in heat about that Mustang.

Okay. Getting jiggywidit, I looked at the on-line dealership ads, I followed-up by physically visiting each lot that might harbor a prospective candidate. I compared not only dollars, but also stats like power to weight ratios, acceleration times, stopping distances, depreciation, as well as intangibles like “cool-factor,” grins per mile, and “does it make me feel good?”

After about a week of looking, I found the Mustang that checked all the boxes. It had the go-fast goodies I wanted, it was not a “Premium” model, so there weren’t a lot of accessories and conveniences that, while nice to have, would have added unwanted weight. This-here choice was “Goldilocks,” which is to say — just right! And, as a big, big, big bonus, the color matched my neck…

2013 Mustang GT in Race Red

2013 Mustang GT in Race Red

Aw Lawd… This thing took some getting used to. Sexy, powerful, and quicker than a stabbed rat, I was smote, as smote could be. Did I deserve something this fine? Oh Hell Yeah, you betcha!

The shifter and power delivery are unforgiving of less than attentive manipulation, so fingers-of-butter and fists-of-ham do not provoke a satisfying driving experience. The challenge here is to learn to drive smoothly. Jerkiness, either in human behavior or driving prowess is quickly rewarded by a cross Mustang, a cross policeman, or both. Just don’t do it. “Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.” Or, as Wyatt Earp said about gunfighting, and surviving same, “Make haste slowly.”

Besides, injudicious application of on-tap mucho horsepower will only serve to: 1) introduce your grill to your own ass end when exciting a curve, or, 2) turn expensive Pirelli tires into rubber dust and bluish smoke. Neither outcome is stylish.

I like everything about this car. Since I have no friends or social life, two doors are really one-more than I absolutely need (although, visually, there is some benefit in symmetry). The power is more than adequate and having a straight shift transmission plays nicely to my need for control —is that alright to admit? The color, while not for nothin’, gets more than a few mostly positive, comments, is perfect for my eyes. When I drop the back seat, a straight-through expanse of trunk provides a lot of room for stuff.

Being a Ford, maintaining the car is reasonable, and if I keep my right foot reined-in, mileage approaches 36 per gallon on interstate trips. But, If I hoon about town I get a very sobering mileage figure of less-than-twelve to the gallon. (I gotta tell you, I love Kroger fuel-points!)

Unlike my previous choice in 4 wheeled vehicles, Its not much good for off-road or foul weather travel, but its good for my soul and its perfect for feeling good. As one who prefers driving to sometimes more time-effective flying, in this car a fella can do a lot of both!

— Mike
















Guns

One of my interests is firearms. I learned to shoot from my Dad, starting at a very young age. Knowing how to use guns was a pretty good skill set to have while I was on active duty and it served me and my mates very well. While, as a boy, I hunted small game in the fields and woods of Tennessee, by the time I mustered out, the Navy had pretty-much beat the desire to hunt out of me. I do, however, still kill-the-hell out of paper targets, and enjoy a modicum of proficiency at same.

Because I know a little about and appreciate the inherent beauty of firearms, a few years back, I began to collect examples that appealed to me. My strategy was to buy American made guns in new or as new condition. The guns I pursued are no longer produced, and would, in almost every case be Colts, Smith and Wesson, or Ruger. A few long guns caught my eye, but most in my collection are pistols or revolvers.

I have a few guns with, what collectors call “character.” In the parlance of gun collectors, character is an adjective or attribute meaning the gun’s appearance is less-than pristine. It doesn’t mean the weapon won’t shoot. To the contrary, many guns with character have been used quite a lot, but they have been cared for and are some of the smoothest handling, sweetest shooting guns one may ever encounter.

While these guns with character may have seen days when they were better looking, the fact they have seen much use, some in service over a period of a century or more, they certainly must have some history, and, could they talk, may have a few stories to tell. I have some guns I wish I could talk to (well, sometimes, truth be told, I do talk to ‘em…) and ask how they came to have that scratch, or what’s that nick in the wooden grip all about? When I buy old guns, there’s always some gab about the gun for sale that goes on between the seller and me before we “hunker-down” and get to talking money. There’s a saying about buying old guns, “You’re buying the gun, not the story.”

Now a buyer needs to keep that in mind, but while the story that goes with the gun may or may not be exactly factual, sometimes there’s a fantasy-cum-romantic “what-if?” notion.

What if that Type 38 Arisaka rifle spent some time in the tunnels of Mount Suribachi?

This 6.5 mm Type 38 Arisaka rifle was issued to troops of the Imperial Japanese armed forces prior to and during World War II.

This 6.5 mm Type 38 Arisaka rifle was issued to troops of the Imperial Japanese armed forces prior to and during World War II.

What if that Colt 1911 .45 acp went over-the-top of a trench in 1914 France?

The upper (slide mechanism) of this Colt 45 is of World War I vintage. The lower frame, an Essex, was added at some time in the long life of this gun. With a few modern alterations, I used it briefly in competition.

The upper (slide mechanism) of this Colt 45 is of World War I vintage. The lower frame, an Essex, was added at some time in the long life of this gun. With a few modern alterations, I used it briefly in competition.

Could it be that the .32 acp model of 1903 pistol was carried by Bonnie Parker?

Known as the model of 1903, this example of the nifty 32 caliber semi-auto colt pistol, according to serial number information, was shipped in 1910 or 1911. Despite age and obvious wear, it shoots flawlessly.

Known as the model of 1903, this example of the nifty 32 caliber semi-auto colt pistol, according to serial number information, was shipped in 1910 or 1911. Despite age and obvious wear, it shoots flawlessly.

If you’re a student of history, it gets real interesting to wonder how these testaments might dovetail into the past, and the possibilities astound! Could that S&W model 13, 3” barrel .357 have been originally issued by the FBI? …and that Inland .30 carbine with “44” on the barrel, reckon it witnessed the snow-bound hell of the Battle of the Bulge? …what about the old, but flawless 4” Smith and Wesson .44 magnum? Considering the inherent blast and recoil (don’t even bring-up the cost of ammunition) these are very unpleasant to shoot, so did some drugstore cowboy, buy this expensive macho statement, shoot it once, realize “damn, what have I done?” …then put it into the sock drawer for the next 30 years?

Smith & Wesson Model 13 .357 magnum revolver. FBI gun? Who knows, but it could have some stories!

Smith & Wesson Model 13 .357 magnum revolver. FBI gun? Who knows, but it could have some stories!

My brilliantly designed M-1 carbine was used on all World War II fronts, and was still fighting during the Korea and Viet Nam conflicts. This example is from 1944. Hey old warrior, Where did you travel, what did you do?

My brilliantly designed M-1 carbine was used on all World War II fronts, and was still fighting during the Korea and Viet Nam conflicts. This example is from 1944. Hey old warrior, Where did you travel, what did you do?

The .44 magnum Model 29 Smith & Wesson revolver, with a barrel slightly longer than the 4” variety shown here, was Clint Eastwood’s gun of choice in the Dirty Harry Movies.

The .44 magnum Model 29 Smith & Wesson revolver, with a barrel slightly longer than the 4” variety shown here, was Clint Eastwood’s gun of choice in the Dirty Harry Movies.

Come-on, boys, tell us a story!

As I approach my dodder-age, I no longer see gun collecting as a long-term interest. So it’s coming round to the time where, I suppose, I’ll need to start to auction my guns. From my research, I should reap about 300% in profit over my monetary investment. But, as I study on it, I’ll also lose something intangible in the process.

I think all who collect things that really interest them, come to realize that ownership is not a forever thing. We learn we are just a custodian for the moments we get to hold our treasures. Being, usually, from a bygone time, these fine things will eventually need to go to the next era’s care-taker. It’s good to know there are folks who will treasure these, but, to me, it’s a bitter-sweet parting.

—Mike

Biker Mike

It was the fall of 1967. I was about to be 14 and I’m sitting astride my first motorcycle, a candy-apple red Yamaha Twin Jet 100. This oil injected, twin cylinder, blue smoke belching bike boasted a 10 horsepower motor, instant torque delivery, and the da-ding-ding-ding characteristic of its two stroke goodness. This sexy beauty was the second best thing to happen to me, so far, in my youth.

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I needed to find the right Tripod

I began matriculating at Brooks Institute of Photography in the late spring of 1978. It being a private school, students had to actually buy everything needed to meet course requirements.

 Two of my first major purchases were a 4x5 view camera and a sturdy tripod. So I ponied-up for a used Omega View (with a very fine 210 mm Schneider Kreuznach lens) and a brandy-new Gitzo tripod and pan/tilt cine head.

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