Saturday, February 28, 2015

Beers, Bores and Bokeh - Girls Day Out

Girls Day Out was moved to Saturday with the impending forecast and my brief number of hours off. I stayed in Indy as with the schedule and weather it would have been a long drive, 12 hours with my husband and then turn around and come back in a bad storm.

I'm playing "bachelorette" and Partner in Grime is tearing out the kitchen floor (I think I got the better of the two deals, even if I miss him). It was an emotionally brutal week with some long work days so I needed to just put my "goofball" hat on and hang around with someone that knew me years before this whole blogging thing and understands that.

Broad Ripple Brew Pub - where on any given weekend you can see a blond and a redhead standing around in sub zero temperatures taking pictures of things while muttering such artistic comments as "damn it's cold!"

To the Pub!  Lots of goodies on the menu but after a week of salad and low fat wraps I wanted something to make my cholesterol levels wake up.

But first - a little transaction following the exchange of the secret code.

"The Quick Brown Fox Jumped Over the Lazy Dog"

The package was handed over  A beer mysteriously arrived.

Yes, frozen croissant dough - I'm the local croissant dealer it appears after making 3 dozen  of them from scratch a few weekends ago.  After a night of rising in the oven with the light on, then baking, all you really need to add is bacon.
But morning is a long way off.  It's time to peruse the pub menu and specials.  We ordered two half orders of nachos,one plain and one with beans, a half order of onion rings and a order of Mexican white wings (chicken breast wrapped around a jalapeno, wrapped again in bacon, deep fried and dipped in spicy barbecue sauce.)

Of course there was beer. It is un-American to eat this much fried food without a pint to wash it down.We caught up on what we'd read lately, the state of the world, and local news, including someone arrested locally for less than super secret deals to send some of the family butter and egg money to an extremist group  They couldn't have been less obvious if they'd had an ISIS Go Fund Me Page with a kitten on it, and thankfully, ended up in the slammer.

But there's enough politics and bad news out there, let's talk about important things, bows, bores, and bokeh as well as a discussion on adult beverages we love, and don't.

"I wouldn't drink that if I could lap it out of Hugh Jackman's navel!"

You know, typical dainty, feminine conversation.

Then the cameras came out again.  There were more lenses on the table than a good day at Lenscrafter.  But it was fun to talk about something other than work, or shop, or firearms, for friendships are bound in many things, most of them unspoken and formed over time.

It was actually kind of neat being in Broad Ripple on a Saturday - a LOT more cars but Rene's Bakery was open. . . which meant.

Yup - Rene's giant chocolate chewy cookie (with extras for Partner). I may start making noises like Chewbacca in the truck and explode on the drive home, but it might be worth it.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Brother in Arms

As I said before - since someone here (not a regular just a "insert adjective here" saw fit to post online where my family burial site is in the comments through Find a Grave -  when Dad passes, there will be no notification.  Give us that bit of privacy please.)

But tonight---on the week of the first anniversary of Barkley's passing and my brother's birthday, one of the last photos I have of he and my 93 year old Dad, outside of praying at the dinner table on one of our last trips.  It was a drive to our favorite breakfast diner where my brother could always talk the waitress out of a giant mug of coffee "to go" for free,  because even to the end, he was a charmer.  And a punster - so I can only imagine the quip he had just stated when I got this photo of him starting to crack up.
My brother was once six foot strong, a muscled 260 pounds, red hair, a sailor's stance. His nickname was "Bull" for a reason.  Looking at this it would be easy to see sadness in his frail frame.  But I just see how he was taking every last drop  of joy with his family in the days he had left.

He's still my hero - even as he's gone to tend to us from above, a Submariner always on watch.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

RIP Barkley 2-24-2014

February 24, 2014.

It's the day we lost Barkley.  It's a hard day, for sure.  Some of it was good.  I got to write a check to an animal rescue group in the four figures from sales to help them and I'll have another one soon in the same amount to another group in Texas.   I got to spend time with coworkers I hadn't seen in a couple of weeks as I was dealing with issues with my Dad, who is terminally ill with an inoperable mass in his colon.

Then I got to come home to the first and only 1 star review of TBOB, after being on the cover of Kirkus Reviews, an Amazon #1 in the kindle store, thousands given to dog, cat and horse rescue around the country in memory of Barkley and my brother.

"Not worth the read". 

Yes, I know Marko says "don't read the reviews".  But there it was, as glaring as a spotlight. Today, the day of all of their tiny handful of  reviews.  A troll with bad timing - or just someone who lives to hurt because of their own failures.

I'm pretty sure I know the woman who left it, though I won't ever know for sure.

But Barkley does.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Charmed Lives

Charms That Save Lives.     This rescue based business was was founded by two college students with the promise to create jewelry that uniquely expresses the beauty and courage of homeless pets, and raises money to protect them until they can be fostered or adopted.

In communicating with different rescue groups to find the best places to send sales proceeds from The Book of Barkley to help rescue dogs, I found Dog Saving Dogs and  ordered one of the beautiful charm sets, which would came with two, one for me, and one for Miss Abby-- happily noting they had set up their business and marketing in beautiful South Bend Indiana. Being a "Hoosier" for many, many years, that made me smile. And so I contacted one of them and asked for their story, delighted to find this company was founded by two young men  more concerned with others, than themselves. In this day of many young people asking for the world handed to them without effort it was so refreshing to meet someone committed to hard work, entrepreneurship, even as they help others.
Keith and Maya

The Story began when Texas college student  Keith W. visited an animal shelter within walking distance of his apartment to take a photo for Facebook of a dog needing a home that he could share even if he couldn't adopt himself.  While he was there one of the volunteers brought out Maya, a  1.5 year old Staffordshire Terrier. She had been at the shelter for 6 months and had no visitors or adoption requests. He said she was the sweetest dog in the world. She knew how to sit, stay, shake, and just loved to be petted. In so many ways, she reminded him of another beloved pet, just in a Staffordshire Terrier body. He wanted to take her home, but as a full time student with no permanent home for a dog, he knew could not--he could only try and find her a home on his own.

Keith did all he could through social media to see if he could find her a home, with no response. Two weeks later, he went to the shelter again to visit her, only to find that Maya had been put down. One year from graduating he felt powerless to help her, having neither the money nor the means to help such dogs in the way they needed.

After moving back to Indiana, he knew donations were an option but he really wanted to see where the money went, and how it would help the dogs. That was the inspiration for Dogs Saving Dogs, but the specific idea (and the name!) came when he met Declan F. at a meeting for entrepreneurs.  Declan had been working with a friend on a new kind of surgery cone that would be a lot more comfortable for the dog. The two of them began talking and planning and Dogs Saving Dogs was officially started in November 2014.

Their mission, simply put, is to make animal rescue fashionable. In their own words - they want to give ordinary people the power to do something extraordinary, provide the necessary funds for an animal to be rescued from a shelter and brought to a pet rescue, where they will be fostered until they find a forever home. They are currently working two shelters in the South Bend area and a new one in New York, all operating as non-profits,

The charm set comes with two charms, one for you and one for your four legged best friend, so that the two of you become partners in rescue. The Charms are nickel-free, non tarnishing and American made, with locally sourced materials, keeping the communities hard earned money local, so local business can grow and prosper. Their  commitment to American-Made, quality jewelry comes from their desire to create lasting and timeless art that has a positive impact on everyone involved. They are really beautiful, and I can guarantee if you have a daughter or other lady in  your life that loves dogs--- she would love to have one, the "human" charm, coming with a matching chain to wear around your neck.

With every set, they provide a paper insert that tells you exactly where your donation went. The donation is currently 50% of profit, the best they can do as a initial start up, but the goal is 100% of the profits once, they get going
Bear - the dog my charm set is helping to save.

Their story made me misty-eyed, thinking of the months Abby Lab spent in a high kill shelter, thin and sick and scared. I was so happy to be able to rescue her with the help of like-minded people and now, like these wonderful young men, want to make sure I do all I can to help other dogs. Because if we save one, or a thousand, we will know that there are people in the world that care. As Keith says - "every name that we engrave into a charm set is one more dog that gets out of a shelter and that much closer to finding a home and a family that will love that dog for the rest of its life."

I love the one I purchased and received today in the pretty gift box with a note that said it went for toys for Bear and his buddies and Abby's is already on  her paracord collar. (yes, that's U of I-- not the Miami Dolphins -  Partner in Grime is a graduate)  The collar is from Pudin's Paw Paracord for Dogs. They are a wonderful family owned business (Pudin is their Lab) from my home State, that makes beautifully crafted, high quality paracord leashes and collars of many varieties, all custom made for size and color selection.  

Please go check out Dogs Saving Dogs, consider a set of charms or simply say thanks. I asked if I could share their story here, and Keith, coming from a rural family that tended and  hunted the land, said "yes, please!" 

Please share and support their mission in memory of all the dogs we have loved.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Shaken not stirred - The Beretta 3032 Tomcat

  • Roberta X has a post up earlier this weekend about a nifty "improper lady's gun" she picked up at the Tri State gun show - a .25 Beretta 418 which got me thinking about this little back up piece.

The .32acp was a standard police round in Europe for decades, and is still seen around in small, inexpensive pocket pistols in the US and elsewhere.  One of those is the Beretta 3032 Tomcat is a simple blowback pistol with a single and double action mechanism. Fitted with a frame mounted thumb safety, it's small but it's not crafted cheaply. The frame is aluminum alloy, and the slide and barrel are either carbon or stainless steel though the grip material is plastic. It is available in an "Inox" variant, with stainless steel barrel and slide and the frame anodized to look the same.

For a short time a titanium model was also available. It's been reported that only 1,500 of the titanium models were made, but I was not able to verify that.
There was also a Tomcat Tritium version with tritium night sights.

The 9 mm is often pointed to as the minimum caliber for serious defensive uses and for good reason. I'm one of many who consider that too small. For home defense, I have a .45 with hollowpoints. In concealed carry, unless clothing prevents otherwise, I carry a .45 while traveling in areas I might need it, and 9 mm otherwise. 9 mm, compared to the .45, is smallish and the .32 acp, in comparison, has about half the power of the 9 mm. It's a 70 grain slug at about 850 fps. Not man stopper. Perhap's not even a man-slower, if they are high on drugs.

On the other hand, it's a small hideout pistol, meant to be quite the little surprise when you pull it out of your pocket holster or small bag. Draw, fire until the bad guy is distracted or down, and run like hell. Perfect for slipping in your pocket if you're running to the corner store. Or for deep cover concealment when nothing else is available.

One feature on the Tomcat (which I believe was adopted by Taurus) is the 'tip up' barrel. (meaning the barrel can be released to pivot on a pin under the muzzle).This feature allows a round to be inserted into the chamber directly, without manipulation of the slide. Likewise, the chamber can be easily inspected for its load status. Ammunition companies have also improved on the .32 acp load, by making it in 60 grain hollow-point. CorBon is making some serious kick-butt defensive ammo for the .32 acp. It's not .45 or 9 mm but it's a step up.

To load the pistol, insert a loaded magazine. Then, you can chose to rack the slide OR push a lever and tip the rear of the barrel up, exposing the chamber. You drop in a loaded round, push the barrel back into place, and the weapon is loaded. The slide never need be operated, and the hammer need not be cocked as a result. Since it's a double action pistol (like my trusty Sig), the shooter can just squeeze the trigger to fire. Also easy for people with weak hand/arm strength to load.

So what about accuracy? Don't expect a
whole lot, it has a very short barrel and small, all matte sights - notch in the rear and a blade up front with no dots to line up. But then again, not a real issue, the piece is meant for close range work where there won't be a lot of opportunity for aiming. But it's quite accurate for it's size, even with the little sights.

Ladies, you may find the DA trigger a bit heavy, though I prefer it to the .32 Kel-Tec's trigger pull. SA is fine. With the blowback, recoil is snappy for it's size, but more than manageable. If you have small hands, this works well. People with large hands may only get a couple fingers around the grip, and if you have larger hands like I, there's a chance of slide-bite. You can add a stock with a large palm swell as an alternative.

Another drawback, other then the firing power, The pistol lacks an extractor, relying upon the expanding gasses to force the spent casing rearward. This means that racking the slide will not remove either unspent or defective cartridges. This can lead to complications in a self defense situation, but is often balanced out by the tip-up barrel. There have also been some design issues, with reported frame cracking and failure to feed. This gun has not experienced it, and has been nothing but reliable.

By American standards, underpowered, though I'm sure many of you can relay stories of how it was quite lethal. In my opinion though, in self defense I prefer the 9 mm and most definitely the .45.

For me, if there's an imminent threat to my life, the .32 is one step above "Look. . a Squirrel!"

Yet there are times this gun might come in handy. Certainly, if I was a criminal, I'd give pause if I was looking at this, as opposed to no gun.

There are better concealed options, but if you have you mind on one of these as an ultra small concealed option there are others you might look at as well. Kel-tec is one. Compared to it, the Beretta is a bit large and thick. But I didn't like the Kel-tec near as well, for feel in my hand and looks alone. It felt like a little plastic squirt gun to me though a partner at work loves his Kel-tecs. On the other hand, it's light, it's thinner and their customer support is really good. If you're buying, try out both. Look and feel and comfort are important in any gun that may, on a given day, be a concealed piece for you.

But, for tiny pocket pistols, I'd stick with the Tomcat. It's better than an unkind word, and almost as easy to carry. It's so small and light it would be easy to lose it in a purse (it's less than 1 pound) so make sure you have a purse with a built in holster for stability and easy access (perhaps my readers could suggest one).  It's also  good for clothing that's snug as well. Keep it clean (it doesn't like lint) and lightly lubed, feed it some nice Silvertips, Gold Dots and Federal HS JHP's, house it in a nice pocket holster and you'll have a another friend for life.

I miss you Barkley.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Iron Roads Running

To me there is something almost soothing about old tools, old machinery. The feeling of history simultaneously impossibly far away and yet tantalizingly close. The scent of past use, dulled by generations of oil lamps, of echoing footsteps, hushed voices, tarnished brass fittings, of wood precious as carved ivory. This is the scent of history; comforting us by saying, one hundred years may have passed but what you were is still remembered. What you gave is still useful.

That is why you will find such things around the Range. There is a feeling of innate security in tools that were made to last. Cast iron, machined bronze, Brazilian rosewood, forged high carbon steel. When I hold them, use them, I still seeing the original owners life stamped into the tool, which cost a weeks pay in their time. A time when things were made to last, for a people that had faith in the future and the destiny of our country.

When I was a kid, log trains coming off the mountains would cut shadows across our property, dark forms that would slide over the wall above my bed, over the model boats and planes and trains my brother and I had built. And with the shadow came one of the first sounds of memory, the mournful wail of a train. In daytime, we'd ride our bides along the tracks, searching for diesel smoke in the air, throbbing engines, hoping for quick glimpse. When we did, it was glory, racing our bikes as if we could keep up with it, trailing as fast as we could pedal in wake of smoke that smelled of adventures we could only dream of, crickets sawing away in accompaniment in the summer day of childhood, slowly dying.

If we thought we could go all that way before sunset, and without getting caught, we'd ride as far as the local timber mill, which had multiple tracks running in. We'd sit, breathless as two trains would come in together, praying against a collision, only to have one veer off and stop, while a quarter mile of cars passed. I think of the missing man formation, in which a squadron of fighter planes performs a low pass, one separating and flying off to the heavens. A howling ballet, it's performers mighty machines. Both sights bring a lump to my throat.

We'd look for the engineer up in the engine, indistinct yet mighty, and we wondered who he is and what's in his heart as he holds the power in, his steady foot balancing on an engine that knocks and rumbles. We're not supposed to be her , this close to the tracks, this far from home, and we're going to be late for supper. But we know enough, having learned early on, that for something you love, for the ineffable feeling of rightness, of being exactly where you want to be, in tune with nature and yourself, accompanied by a trains whistle, there will be a price to pay, and it will be worth it.

Now, I'm grown and I'm free to wander the plains and the rails.

The last train trip was a short one when business took me up to Central Ohio and I made a trip on the Cuyahoga Valley train. There were other tourist things to do, yet this was a good day, a trek with a packed sandwich, sitting in a car generations older than I, restored to meticulous polish, watching the trees, the water and even an eagle nookery slide past. The line is run by volunteers, the cars kept up by donations, people who love the rails keeping it alive in a time where speed is of the essence and the old is often replaced by the new, not due to necessity but for the misguided notion that new is always better, that young is always the most desirable.

The extensive park it travels through runs clear down into Central Ohio, with glimpses of simple frame houses, bought at Sears Roebuck, generations ago, for the workers cutting the valleys through which the train passed. The train made stops where we could get off and visit where the trains are restored and maintained, walls of tools, lit by old lamps. Old shops in ancient buildings, the smell of wood and cast iron forever in the air.

Back on the train, the conductor gave us snippets of history over the loudspeakers; spoke of men cutting through the heavy hills of rock and the soil by hand with a brace of mules. (Abrasive Mules?) With the conductors words we could almost picture the mules and the men working, toiling in the cold and the heat and the abrupt change of seasons that is the Great Lakes, and it provided a frame to the landscape outside which was more suitable than the sleek, shiny cars we occasionally saw at the crossings. We could look out on the bare trees and picture those trees as new growth, leaves laid out like hands, gathering the rain and the wind that fueled their growth. We rolled past old buildings in which engine repairs had been made, are still made, the wind ripping the sound of our wheels onward and away, like scraps of paper on which history is written. That is history, the leavings and the shards, the remnants of people who toiled and dreamed and made something that for its day, rivaled any mode of transportation we have today.

One of the cars we saw dated back to 1918 and was used for carrying passengers in the time of WWI. What had it been like for those first people riding out on the trains that now rushed past us? I imagine myself as those people on the train, young men loading their simple gear and saying goodbye, heading towards a future that is ambiguous at best. I picture them boarding the train, in silence, commitment and perhaps fear, yet with a tremulous excitement for what they had accomplished to this day. What would have it been like for those first passengers, for those brave enough to make that first trip, for that moment of exultation when the cars pushed on up an incline constructed in sweat, blood and mud, the trains whistle throwing up an appeal, a defiant cry to the land, "I am this nations' future and I will be heard".

Today that rallying cry was but an echo so I leaned back my head against the seat, and closed my eyes, feeling the train through my bones, its song lulling me back to a day not long distant. I heard the tracks and the whistle, the sound of a eagles cry as it raced the wind behind. Then I didn't hear anything outside at all, only the rhythm of the wheels, rocking me gently, the scent of hard steel coming up out of the darkness, in the valley below, to quicken something in me as old as time.

The ride was over too soon, and time to head back. The long drive back home was mostly in silence, thinking of a simpler time, of sights and sounds of places we are blessed to know, of shiny trains buoyant in the sunlight, the whistle of the train winding through the misty valleys of our past.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Books and Big Mutts

As many of you already know, The Book of Barkley is the #1 Amazon Kindle Book in Pets and Family/Relationship genres and Number 8 in Paid Book sales. 

In the last 48 hours 8810 books were purchased or downloaded.

More books on order and I'm taking the night off to celebrate.

Thank all of you for your support, for his memory, for the many rescue groups we are helping with all of the sales proceeds.

If you've already read Barkley's book or want something a little more adventuresome -

  • Peter Grant's new book Stand Against the Storm, the 4th book in the Maxwell saga is out, I read it today and it's his best work yet.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Barkley Memories - When Computers Attack

Brigids Diary -Winter 2012

After living out of a suitcase the last few weeks both with and without Barkley, I was looking forward to a quiet weekend of sleep, making some French pastry and catching up with the blog world.

It felt good to be home, Barkley was more than ready for mischief (so much for the spare roll of T.P.)

Then I turned on my laptop.  It's been getting slower and slower the last few times I used it. So Friday night, when it kept knocking me off line, I took it over to the coffee shop and tried their wi fi. It worked great.  It's not the computer.

I called Brighthouse in the morning. I had been a customer of ComCast before I moved.  At ComCast the only way to get a real person to speak to was to select the menu option indicating you wanted to SUBSCRIBE to Comcast, not that you already had it, and you'd have someone on the line in seconds.  But for tech support, be prepared to hold for an hour or more.  IF you got someone, they were LESS than helpful.

Now I have Brighthouse.  I'll be honest, I didn't have high hopes.  I'd called them to pay the bill once, that works pretty well with a voice recognition help desk provided you don't get distracted.

"Thanks for calling Brighthouse Network."

"Are you calling from a phone associated with this account?"    "YES"

"In a few words tell me what you're calling about."    "MAKE A PAYMENT"

" What is the last four digits of your SSN?"  and more and more question, watch the clock tick, wishing your computer wasn't acting up.

"Do you wish to make the payment of. . . "     "Great Leaping Horny Toads Barkley, those are my NEW panties!"

"I don't understand what you are saying". 


"Thanks for calling Brighthouse Network."

So I didn't have high hopes for tech support. But someone answered! Within a couple of minutes.  A human who spoke with a Midwest Accent. I explained the issue and what I'd tried to troubleshoot.  They did some tests and sent out a well trained and polite technician within 2 hours. 

My modem was bad. I have the Internet now. Yes!!  I write, I surf, I comment, I bake layers of pastry with real butter, there's a shot of Jameson and a bubble bath and a big black dog happily asleep on my bed (OK, just for tonight)

Sunday dawns - No Internet.  I call again. They checked the signal, which was fine, and asked "do you have McAfee".  This doesn't sound good.  Apparently McAfee had a problem with a recent update.  It's not allowing Internet access.  Brighthouse was just notified.  "Here's their support number to call, they'll walk you through a uninstall and reinstall."

I call,  I'm on hold.  For an hour and 30 minutes.  Music is playing that I can only describe as Japanese Monster Film Musical Score.  Plus it's the same song as well, over and over and over. I start going through the give stages of Internet use.

Denial - I know that if I click on send really fast at least 37 more times it WILL work.

Anger -  If I see that little puke with the #%@# Geek Squad shirt that sold me this. . .

Depression -  Everyone else is on line but me (have big sad-eye stare down with black lab).

Bargaining - Lord - give me back my Internet access and I'll take back that prayer about a large meteorite and a certain member of Congress.

Acceptance  -   I'm beginning to LIKE this music. 

I don't need them. I can uninstall.  OK, I can uninstall after I call EJ to ask how to do it, bribing him with the mental image of baking croissants.

We're uninstalled, internet access is restored.

But I didn't reinstall.  Not McAfee anyway.

Instead I picked another anti virus program  a friend recommended and downloaded it.  I don't care that I already paid for McAfee, never hearing that music again will be worth it.

Now for that French Pastry.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Route 66 (Smith and Wesson version)

I have more "old" weapons than new. Some of it is simply the comfort of those things that have been proven realiable.Then there is simply the sheer love I have for that which is history, of the acts of courage that defined a persons freedom, of the mechanical workings of objects which support self sufficiency and strength. Planes, trains, steam engines, old tools, and yes, the gun. There's an attraction to old tools and old machines, the human values they represent. Nothing that withstands history gets built without brilliance of design, a laboring effort and the dreams of man. Some say a gun is a killing instrument. Man is a killing instrument. The gun is only a tool, from which we have the pure mechanical force which can keep one alive or take a life. As a tool it is as weak or as strong as he or she who hold its, as good or as bad as the collective soul that keeps it in working order. The guns I own are defenders of good, soldier's weapons, officer's weapons, my weapons.

The Smith and Wesson 66 was born in 1970 as a stainless, and therefore more corrosion-resistant, version of the already-popular Model 19 Combat Magnum. That particular firearm was produced from 1957 (first model number stampings) to November 1999

The Model 19 was produced in blued carbon steel or nickel-plated steel with wood or rubber combat grips, an adjustable rear sight, semi-target hammer (wide hammer spur with good checkering), serrated combat-type trigger, and was available in 2.5" (3" particular to the Model 66 being more rare), 4", or 6-inch barrel lengths. The weights are 30.5 ounces, 36 ounces, and 39 ounces, respectively. The 2.5- and 3-inch barrel versions had a round butts, while the others had square butts. I'm not a big fan of the Spongebob Squarepants gun butt from a "feel" standpoint, but they've got a nice crisp look to them.

The Model 19 was produced on Smith and Wessons K-frame platform (S and W refers to their frame sizes by letter) and was chambered for .357 Magnum. The K-frame is somewhat smaller and lighter than the original N-frame .357, usually known as the S&W Model 27. The Smith and Wesson no longer makes the K-Frame, replacing them with the heavier L-Frame models, which include models 619, 620 and the model 686. The L Frames are a bit heavier, and for me, don't point as naturally as does the 66.

Stainless steel offers many advantages in a gun, outside of just "SHINY", including the fact that you can polish out minor imperfections without removing bluing. Additionally minor rub wear doesn't affect the gun's finish appreciably as it would do to a blued finish.

The Model 66 is a double-action, six-shot revolver, retaining most of the characteristics of the 19. The one I have fired the most, like the 19, had a target trigger (featuring vertical grooves), target hammer (wide hammer spur with good checkering), fixed point sight and adjustable rear sight.

If you are on the lookout for one of your own, the first issued ones are easily identifiable with the stainless steel rear sight, pin barrel, serrated stainless trigger, recessed cylinder and the “mod 66” stamped on the frame. If you think you see one there just waiting to be purchased somewhere, it should have stamped on the left side of the gun the words "SMITH & WESSON" along the barrel, with the trademark S&W logo on the frame below the cylinder latch. If you have a S&W you would like to know more about you can send a picture and a form from the S&W Website to the Historian, Mr. Roy G. Jinks.

The gun remained virtually unchanged until 1977 when the 66-1 model came out which changed the gas ring from the yoke to the cylinder. The later 66-3 designation indicates design tweaks to delay development of cylinder end-shake as well as the elimination of the recessed cylinder. Future changes through the 70's and 80's slightly lengthened the cylinder and installed a new yoke retention system/radius stud package/hammer nose bushing/floating hand.

In 1994, with the 66-4 model, the rear sight leaf and drill, extractor and tape frame were slightly changed and Hogue grips were introduced. In 1998 there was a change in frame design and in 2002, with model 66-6, it introduced the internal lock. I believe the last one was manufactured in 2004 or 2005.

This firearm was a favorite of many law enforcement agencies in the mid to late 70's, some even carrying it into the late 90's (or later than that, if the rumors are true). The demise of the K-Frame (and with it, the 66) came as owners started to get a hankering for the lighter and faster 125gr .357 Magnum load as an alternate to the 158gr lead projectile that was the bulk of the ammo available in the early production years. The forcing cone on the model 19 is not as thick at the very bottom. The lighter bullets at very high velocity using very hot burning powders, apparently subjected the forcing cone to what I guess, in layman's terms, you could call metal fatigue, with resultant cracking of the forcing cone. Smith and Wesson has made the recommendation to not use the 125gr loads though I've not heard of any cone cracking issues with the 66 Model. Some 66 owners recommend alternating .38 with the .357 in the 66, others have shot nothing but 158gr for thousands of rounds and still have a nice, tight weapon.

The .357 Magnum is a story in and of itself, being probably the oldest handgun "magnum" cartridge. Its collaborative development started in the 30's, in direct response to Colt's .38 Super Automatic. At the time, the .38 Super was the only American pistol cartridge capable of defeating automobile cover and the early ballistic vests that were just beginning to emerge in the post-World War I "Gangster Era". ("Gangster" not to be confused with "Gangsta" as the future felons of the 1930's had the common sense not to wear their pants so low the waist is about knee level. It would have been hard to be a successful bootlegger in pants a clown wouldn't wear because they were too undignified.

Tests at the time revealed that those early ballistic vests defeated any handgun cartridge traveling at less than about 1000 ft/s. Colt's .38 Super Automatic just edged over that velocity and was able to penetrate car doors and vests that bootleggers and gangsters were employing as cover. Smith and Wesson's Dan Wesson agreed to produce a new revolver that would handle "high intensity" .38 Special loads, but only if Winchester would develop a new cartridge.

Though .38 and .357 would seem to be different-diameter chamberings, they are in fact dimensionally identical. 0.357 inch is the true bullet diameter of the .38 Special cartridge. The .38 Special nomenclature relates to the previous use of heeled bullets (such as the .38 Long Colt), which were the same diameter as the case. Thus, the only external difference in the two cartridges is a slight difference in length (the .357 having a .125 inch longer case). Those first revolvers referred to as the Magnum Models were completed by Smith and Wesson in April of 1935.

Retired Assistant Chief Patrol Inspector of the U.S. Border Patrol, and noted firearms and shooting skills writer, Bill Jordan, consulted with Smith and Wesson on the design and characteristics of the Model 19. His idea? The Peace Officers perfect dream. A sidearm with a heavy barreled four inch K frame .357 Magnum with a shrouded barrel like the big N frame .357 and adjustable sights. After months and months of experimenting with improved strength steels and the latest in special heat treat processes, the result was the .357 "Combat Magnum" firearm (later designated as the Model 19). The first, serial-number K260,000 was presented to Jordan on November 15, 1955 and a legend was born.

So how does this "old legend" shoot? Flawlessly. With the weight of the K frame and the barrel, it points more naturally then a German Short Haired Pointer. Never having shot the weapon before, I still got a nice tight group, even with the bigger round, once I learned where it shoots with the sight picture. I can see why it was so popular with law enforcement.

The trigger was one of the smoothest I've tried, no stacking. Double tap didn't require me to do the "Dance of the Seven Veils" trying to get my hand back in position from recoil. Single hand holding with double actions pulls was not hard at all with this piece. It was accurate, it was tight, it felt really good in my hand (no ow!!! factor with multiple rounds and tender skin) and even better, it made a nice big HOLE right where I wanted it to go.

Now for the ammo question. Generally speaking, any .357 Magnum revolver will safely handle any factory 38 Special ammo (but do NOT attempt to load or fire .357 in your .38 special - BAD dog. . BAD!). The Model 66 should safely shoot both 357 Magnum and 38 Special ammo, including extra-hot 38 ammunition known as "plus-p" (+P) and "plus-p-plus" (+P+). Of course, check with your manufacturer if any doubt as to what rounds are the best to put in your newly acquired firearm. I've not fired it enough to recommend any particular type, so will leave it up to my readers to pass that information along.

The double action (DA) was not quick as smooth as the Colt Python, but that's like saying Vanilla Hagan Daz ice cream is not quite as rich and tasty as the Coffee flavored. The feel was consistent through out the pull, even more so than the Python, which to me has a noticeable change in the pull weight partway through the DA trigger travel.

You may have to hunt around to find one. But there are not a ton of good condition, clean ones available. If you have to chance to buy or borrow one, you probably won't regret it. The first one I shot, and one of those pictured here, belongs to a partner in squirrellville. It's what he carries when off duty and it's a beautiful piece.

The leverage is excellent for the size of the handgun. I've got really long fingers and a good sized hand. However, I think the hands of most women and men who are not built like Grizzly bears, would find a good grip with this. The trigger finger reaches the trigger with a minimum of effort, and the front sight stays on target if the target isn't a Bobble Head.

Cleaning is a snap. Remove the cylinder and clean with a little Break-Free. There's no sideplate removal or detail stripping that's required on other types of guns you're used to cleaning. Even if you dunk the thing in salt water, it's just a field strip, clean with Break-Free CLP, rinse in hot water, spray with more CLP, wipe down and air dry.

Why salt water you ask? Seal Team Six used the Model M66 until the M686 came along, as did other Teams. The reasoning was that if lubricants washed off the weapon during the swim to the. . uh. . . objective, a revolver was more likely to function than a semi-auto. Blued finishes don't hold up to such exposure. Parkerized, anodized and stainless finishes do quite well. There was no special ammunition used, as the Winchester Silver Tips of the time were considered reasonably waterproof.

It's a wee bit big to be totally indiscernible, but with the right holster it will make a good concealed piece for someone that's not hobbit sized. Dennis at Dragon Leatherworks has made several beautiful ones of the FlatJack type for the Model 19 (K Frame, just like the Model 66) and a J Frame (Chief's Special) including a couple that blogger Jay G. owns.

I was sold the first time I got my hands on it. It's light for what it packs and comes on target easily with a high hit probability. It's a legend, a true sculpture in stainless. Like my partner, I'd trust my life with it, and that says a lot.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Canon Fodder - Valentine's Day

It just seemed like Christmas was last week and here it is Valentine's Day. After a busy work week it was good to be home with Partner in Grime but with 16 degree temps and close to 40 mph winds, it was a good day to stay INSIDE, and not go out for some fancy Valentine's dinner.

This was a day for warm shirts and slippers - not formal wear.

It was a busy week - Saving Grace - A Story of Adoption got its final round of  chapter by chapter editing before being put into one manuscript to go back to Gigi for a final review then off to the publisher next week. 80,000 words and 56 chapters - we're looking for a late May publication (I'm still working on the cover design). The Book of Barkley sold out at Amazon after being featured on the cover of Kirkus Review with a stellar review and the publisher is whisking them more.  This second book - I wrote for my daughter and if no one but she reads it--- I'm OK, it's a story for her and penning it was quite cathartic.

The rest of the week - well, not so smooth. It started with the vacuum at the crash pad suddenly spitting hair back OUT - even with a new bag. I brought it back to the Range with me for a Suck-ectomy.

This was inside.  Partner just looked at me and all I could say was "3 glasses of wine, an exploding squeaky toy that moo'd and type A redhead with a strong cleaning drive."
Works like a charm now that all the gunk is out of it.

I don't know why we keep having so much hair around here.
Hey - don't blame me - there's not just hair - they're crumbs!

Yes, because Mom made homemade croissants for Valentine's Day Breakfast.

You can't get those flaky layers out of a can.  They take most of a day to prepare, as I'll make about 3 dozen, then freeze (and Tam, seriously sorry I forgot some when I came over last - there's some with your name on it left).

It was a good Valentine's.  Simple is better.. We agreed, like Christmas, no expensive gifts. We're not real big on the whole "Hallmark Holiday" kind of holidays. (though I did get him a bottle of Bitters on "Sweetest Day".)

For Partner it would be easy - some little fun things to nibble on for him.

Well NOT the soap for nibbling.  The soap is from Horse Creek Soap Company -hand crafted by a young lady who is friends with the Farm Family of Blogorado and who makes THE best goatsmilk soap and lotion.  Partner likes to use it to shave with as it's so very silky and rinses clean This is "Bay Rum".  I have "Fresh Snow" in my shower which smells particularly yummy and unlike a lot of scented soaps is mild to wash with. . . well. .  head to toe. You know, some soaps you can clean the sedan with it but you don't dare wash the Mini Cooper with it.  These soaps are perfect and last a long time.

I couldn't resist the "box of chocolates" but I think Partner  liked the fresh baked cookies better.

Even Abby for a new plushie toy (don't disembowel this one, OK?)
He's been down in the shop the last couple of nights while I got my bubble bath.  There was quite the whir of machinery going on and I had NO idea what he was up to.

He was making me this.
You all have a wonderful Valentine's Day.  Whether you curl up with just yourself and a great book.
or spend the day with your family or friends - the day is what you will make of it.