Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Sign of Not Practicing Enough

How can I tell I'm not getting to the range enough? It's not only by reviewing my match scores. It's made quite apparent by the spider that's built a web against my range box.

That green box holds the pasters, staplers and other supplies I take to the range. Obviously it's not been moved recently.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Finally, A Useful Language Lesson

A fortune cookie slip sent by a friend.

Feast of the Archangels

September 29 is the Feast of the Archangels — St. Gabriel, St. Raphael and St. Michael. These are trying times for Christianity. Governments around the world, our own included, our creating laws to restrict the free practice of religion. The satanic forces of islam are attacking and killing Christians around the world, including right here at home. There's no more important time implore the intercession of these powerful warriors. We should asked especially for the protection of St. Michael the Archangel.

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
cast into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

St. Wenceslaus, Patron Saint of Brewers

Reprinted from September, 28, 2012

Today is the feast day of St. Wenceslaus, who is regarded as a patron Saint of Czech brewers.
St. Wenceslaus, duke of Bohemia, was born about the year 907 at Prague, Bohemia (now the Czech Republic). His father was killed in battle when he was young, leaving the kingdom to be ruled by his pagan mother. Wenceslaus was educated by his grandmother, Ludmilla, also a saint. She taught him to be a Christian and to be a good king. She was killed by pagan nobles before she saw him king, but she left him with a deep committment to the Christian faith. 
Throughout his life he preserved his virginity unblemished. As duke he was a father to his subjects, generous toward orphans, widows, and the poor. On his own shoulders he frequently carried wood to the houses of the needy. He often attended the funerals of the poor, ransomed captives, and visited those suffering in prison. He was filled with a deep reverence toward the clergy; with his own hands he sowed the wheat for making altar breads and pressed the grapes for the wine used in the Mass. During winter he would visit the churches barefoot through snow and ice, frequently leaving behind bloody footprints. 
Wenceslaus was eighteen years old when he succeeded his father to the throne. Without regard for the opposition, he worked in close cooperation with the Church to convert his pagan country. He ended the persecution of Christians, built churches and brought back exiled priests. As king he gave an example of a devout life and of great Christian charity, with his people calling him "Good King" of Bohemia. 
His brother Boleslaus, however, turned to paganism. One day he invited Wenceslaus to his house for a banquet. The next morning, on September 28, 929, as Wenceslaus was on the way to Mass, Boleslaus struck him down at the door of the church. Before he died, Wenceslaus forgave his brother and asked God's mercy for his soul. Although he was killed for political reasons, he is listed as a martyr since the dispute arose over his faith. This king, martyred at the age of twenty-two, is the national hero and patron of the Czech Republic. He is the first Slav to be canonized.
According to BeerHistory.com, the Saint's protection of local hops earned him much regard.
Because Bohemian hops were so valued, Wenceslas ordered the death penalty for anyone caught exporting the cuttings and obviously endeared himself to the local hop growers and brewers. He became the patron saint of Bohemia and Czechoslovakia and his crown became the symbol of nationalism for the Czechs. By extension he became a patron saint of Czech brewers.
King Wenceslaus is the inspiration for the Christmas carol, Good King Wenceslas.

So let's raise a glass of fine beer to the Good King, Saint Wenceslaus.


Today marks four years since my mother passed away. It's cliché sounding I know, but it really doesn't seem that long ago. Her smile and her extended bear hugs remain fresh in my memory. I still get the brief thought to tell her about something exciting happening, especially in her grandson's life, before it hits me that I cannot. So I pray, and I am sure she knows. Frankly I hope the memories and those thoughts that turn to her never fade.

I love you and miss you everyday mom.

Requiescat In Pace

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Changes at Blue & Gray

We've long been fans of Blue & Gray Brewing, especially the brewpub. In fact, this post is the 103rd time I've posted about the local brewery. There's been so much Blue & Gray news here that the Musings have frequently been mistaken for a Blue & Gray blog — I've received requests for labels, tour info, and a few complaints. When they opened their brewpub, Lee's Retreat, in 2010, I happened to be working within walking distance. I've spent many a Friday and Saturday evening sitting at the bar since. In fact, I was getting ready to leave my office Friday to head to the brewpub for some Blue & Gray Oktoberfest beer, when this email arrived...
Lee's Retreat Brewpub always experiences it's greatest success during weekend festivals like the recent Oktoberfest, and when we host your family reunion, rehearsal dinners, retirement parties, etc. The focus and format of the brewpub as a venue is therefore adjusting to better serve the local community.

The brewpub will still be open to the general public for lunch every Saturday beginning October 4th in conjunction with the regularly scheduled Saturday tours, so bring your family and friends in for a free taste and tour and enjoy fresh and local pub grub.

We have several private events scheduled on Friday and Saturdays in the near future. The brewpub is therefore unavailable to the general public this weekend and every Friday and Saturday evening thereafter.  Brewpub diners are often overshadowed by large parties and large parties are sometimes out of place among walk in brewpub guests. Neither group leaves satisfied.

We are forced to follow market demands and cater to the larger groups.  We apologize for any inconvenience.  On the bright side, you can now have the brewery as your own personal playground for the evening with a private brewhouse tour and samples straight from the tanks.  Please consider us for your next party.

That's right, Lee's Retreat is converting to a private event venue. The public can enjoy lunch on Saturday only. I can't say I'm not disappointed but I must respect their business decision, and certainly wish Jeff well. On the other hand, if there's enough private party business to keep a brewpub open, that's a good thing. For the brewery that is, not so much for the long-time supporters and fans of the brewery, for us this is a closing.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Does Beer Improve Memory?

I was going to post this earlier, but I forgot.

A study at the  Linus Pauling Institute and College of Veterinary Medicine at Oregon State University found that Xanthohumol, a type of flavonoid found in hops and beer, has been shown to improve cognitive function in young mice.

But don't get your hopes up, as the researchers also state,
It’s also important to note, Magnusson said, that the levels of xanthohumol used in this study were only possible with supplements. As a fairly rare micronutrient, the only normal dietary source of it would be through the hops used in making beer, and “a human would have to drink 2,000 liters of beer a day to reach the xanthohumol levels we used in this research.”

Well, that explains a lot.

See "Can beer help you remember things? Not exactly" for more.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

"Street Encounter Skills" Class

After some fun competitive shooting on Saturday, Sunday brought a change of gears, and gear, when Colleen and I, along with "Checkered Flag" attended the "Street Encounter Skills" course put on by John Murphy of FPF Training. This ten hour defensive shooting course is a refresher of sorts for FPF alumni. I won't go into explicit detail on everything we did in the class, in fairness to John and future students, but I will share some general impressions of the class.

The morning is spent watching a multimedia presentation. This well-researched presentation delves into critical topics of pre-violence indicators, the impact of stress, and most importantly, principles of avoidance and deescalation. After all, a gun is really a last option tool, and no responsible person wants to get into a gun fight, with the resulting legal and physical trauma associated with such an encounter. The numerous videos of actual assaults, and accompanying analysis, serve to drive home the point of the predatory nature of the criminal element, as well as the swiftness and violent nature of many attacks.

We started the range portion of the day reviewing fundamentals of shooting from concealment, and on the move. Not all the participants had practiced with their handguns recently, much to our instructor's dismay. After John was satisfied the basic skills were in place, or sufficiently refreshed, we moved on to the real meat of the class.

All of John's classes emphasize observation and vocalization before, during, and after a violent encounter. He is quite adept at inducing stress while playing the "voice" of a possible attacker. The student is expected to respond appropriately in an attempt avoid or deescalate, before moving to the use of deadly force if appropriate. Even though the situations are simulated and adapted to fit the "square range," the stress can be quite real. Failing to perform appropriately earns some correctional "love" from John. There were 10 students in the class, and John and his assistant Ryan constantly walk the line providing individual correction, and compliment, as warranted. There was certainly no lack of individual attention. John is very observant and can find, and help fix, any deficiencies.

Throughout the day we worked repeatedly on tactics to defend ourselves from violent encounters. We worked in both large and small groups. We did some drills "on the clock" to learn how quickly we could draw from cover, or move and shoot. Shooting on the move was a major component of the course. Many times we found ourselves performing, or underperforming, in front of the entire class. If the situation called for the use of deadly force, the after action often involved a simulated conversation with "Johnny Law." Near the end of the day we were put into scenarios, in pairs or alone, and armed with blue guns, to put the topics we'd covered to use in a real-world situation. During these exercises brings home just how much your brain has to process, and how easy it is to become complacent. I won't spoil the scenarios for future students, but I will say I was happy to have detected and engaged the assailant, but admittedly only after he got a lot closer than I am comfortable with. The exercise provided a lot of food for thought.

At the end of the day, we were tired and a bit sunburned. I had also developed a renewed confidence in my defensive awareness and shooting skills, but at the same time, was reminded the importance of ongoing training and practice. We only fired around 200 rounds during the class, which is about the same as average afternoon at the range. However, the mindset focus combined with purposeful shooting drills gives maximum benefit without putting extraneous rounds down range. I found the class to be extremely beneficial and well-worth the reasonable tuition.

This was the fifth day of training we've had with John Murphy over the past few years. We've previously taken the two day "Conceal Carry for Self Defense" and "Advanced Conceal Carry Tactics" courses. We've also attended a Self Defense Legal Course and a Defensive Shotgun course hosted by FPF. All of the classes are valuable for developing a defensive mindset and the accompanying skills. Obviously we're fans of the training offered by FPF and highly recommend the classes. We also strongly believe that ongoing quality training related to civilian self defense is important, in fact required, for anyone who chooses to carry a weapon for personal protection.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fordham Spiced Harvest Ale

Now that it's officially Fall, I figured it was time to crack open a Pumpkin Ale. After dinner the other evening I grabbed a bottle of Fordham Brewing Spiced Harvest Ale from the fridge. I received the sample bottle from the brewery last month but hadn't gotten around to trying it out. Actually, we reviewed this beer last fall, so I already knew I would enjoy it. Pumpkin Ales and Spiced Ales can be hit or miss for my palate, but Fordham's Fall seasonal is quite tasty.

The beer pours a deep amber color with a thin off-white head. The aroma is rich with pumpkin and spice, but it smells like a pumpkin pie, not just pumpkin pie spice. The flavor is that of sweet pumpkin combined with the zing of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and clove. The classic pumpkin pie spices are there, but it's really the sweet pumpkin that is foremost. The spicy notes linger behind in the finish, along with a bit of zesty hops.

My impression remains largely unchanged from last year. The exception being I didn't wait until November to enjoy it. Fordham Brewing does Pumpkin Ale right. Spiced Harvest Ale is refreshing, savory, and light bodied. And it's on the shelves now.

The beer reviewed here was a promotional sample from the brewery. My impressions are provided of my own free will.

The "Commander-in-Chief"


affectedly and irritatingly grand, solemn, or self-important.
"a pompous ass who pretends he knows everything"

synonyms: self-important, imperious, overbearing, domineering, magisterial, pontifical, sententious, grandiose, affected, pretentious, puffed up, arrogant, vain, haughty, proud, conceited, egotistic, supercilious, condescending, patronizing

See also:

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Beer Flavored Coffee?

Like most craft beer fans, I love a good Coffee Stout. A dark Stout flavored with roasted coffee or espresso is a treat for the palate and the nose. Yet, the thought of a beer flavored coffee from Starbucks doesn't hold the same interest for me.
Starbucks, which has seen its Pumpkin Spice Latte become a seasonal phenomenon, has begun testing a latte that tastes like beer. 
It's called Dark Barrel Latte, but it doesn't have any alcohol. Instead, the drink contains a chocolate stout-flavored sauce that might remind drinkers of a dark beer such as a Guinness. It also has whipped cream and a dark caramel drizzle.

Note, the "might remind" disclaimer. There's another glaring flaw I see with this concoction — Coffee Stout is actually made with coffee. Beer-flavored coffee is not made with any beer.

See "Starbucks latest latte flavor? Beer" for more.

September Cavalier USPSA Match

Saturday morning I headed to the Cavalier Rifle and Pistol club for the monthly USPSA match put on by the Greater Richmond Blasters. I had not even touched my gun, other than to clean it, since the Fredericksburg match two weeks ago, so I was really looking forward to shooting again.

I was glad to see the "facilities" arriving ahead of me.

Our squad started on the classifier, "Can You Count?" I've shot this classifier before with a really good time, but on this run I fumbled the second reload and dropped the mag. That bummed me a bit since my reloads are typically pretty smooth and consistent.

That classifier out of the way, we moved on to the four fun field courses. Stage 2 started with the shooter seated and facing down range. After engaging a couple of targets, you ran up a ramp and engaged more targets from atop a platform. Returning to ground level, there were more targets before the final three hidden behind an inclined platform. You had to climb and perch on the incline to shoot the last targets. During my walkthroughs, I stumbled twice going up the first ramp, but perched perfectly onto the second. During the actual run, the first platform was handled without issue, but I had to catch myself on the second, but still managed an 8th place out of 24 finish on the stage.

Stage 3 was another seated start, this time facing up range. After standing and turning, the shooter headed into a circular course of fire with small, and low, ports to shoot through. Upon entering the free fire zone you had to make a sharp left turn and get into a tight corner to shoot the targets through the first port. The course ended with the shooter dropping to knees and shooting from another tight corner. It was a very interesting and fun stage. I finished the stage in 6th place, as I would for the next two stages as well.

Stage 4 was a quick shoot with seven stationary targets and two swingers activated by a stomp plate. The shooting area was limited to a 2"x4" area. The two swingers were weighted differently so one swung faster, and for longer, than the other. Some shooters opted to hit the stomp plate starting the swingers first, step back to engage the stationary targets, then return to the slowing swingers. I opted to shoot the outer four targets, then move to the stomp plate and engage the final three. The swingers were still moving, but I got my hits.

The final stage was a "typical" USPSA field course with targets on both sides of a winding path. I did spend some time before shooting trying to decide exactly from where I wanted to engage the paper and steel targets and when to do my reloads. There were lots of options, some of which would require slide lock reloads, or ending the stage with an empty gun. The layout did force the shooter into a couple of corners. I opted to take a couple longer shots in the interest of managing reloads, even though the targets would be closer later from the forced positions, and was pleased with my run.

This month the organizers opted to have five stages, four field courses and a classifier, instead of the usuals six stages, with one bay holding two. In my opinion this worked out quite well. I am happy to settle for a lower round count to avoid the backups that so often happen with the doubled up stages. We were done shooting before 1:00PM.

I was quite happy with my shooting on this day. In reviewing the videos, I felt a lot of my movement looked sluggish, but I still finished 7th out of 24 Production shooters. I had no misses or hits on no-shoot targets, and even hit one-for-one on all the steel. It's the simple things that make for a good match.

I enjoyed the Cavalier match very much. The atmosphere is relaxed and the stages are always interesting. On top of that, the drive is easy and the half day match leaves plenty of time to do other fun stuff later in the day (or simply relax and recover.)

Monday, September 22, 2014

A Busy Weekend

A weekend packed with activities means no time to sit down to reflect and write about those activities. Friday evening we found ourselves back at Deutschland Downtown enjoying dinner and beer or two. Just a couple of beers though (ok, maybe three) because Saturday morning I had to be up early to shoot the Cavalier USPSA match. On Sunday I changed modes, from competition to self defense — a change of the gear but not the gun — for an all day "Street Encounter Skills" course held by FPF Training.

I'll get some reports written up soon. But first I need to got back to work to recover!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Firearms Training at the Pub

Milwaukee restaurant owner Andy Kochanski knows the life-saving value of firearms. In August of 2013 three armed thugs attempted a robbery of Kochanski's Concertina Beer Hall. The businessman, who was also armed, shot and killed one of the robbers. The other two were later captured and put on trial. To ensure other citizens are properly prepared to defend their own lives, a free concealed carry course was hosted at the bar recently, attended by 100 people.

This is the second such course hosted at the beer hall. Kochanski was praised by Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke for his actions in defending his and his customers' lives.

I suspect the Concertina Beer Hall is an unlikely place for future robbery attempts.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

12th Annual Blue & Gray Oktoberfest

Fredericksburg's original Oktoberfest celebration is happening this Friday and Saturday at Blue & Gray Brewery. This is the twelfth year for this popular event.

The event kicks off Friday, September 19 at 5:00PM with the traditional keg-tapping ceremony at 6:30PM, with an OOOmpah band providing music until 9:00PM. The celebration picks up Saturday at noon and goes until 7:00PM. There will be stein holding contests, beer barrel bowling, and German food and music. Of course, there will be plenty of authentic Oktoberfest beer from Blue & Gray Brewing, served in a commemorative 33.8 oz maas, a 17oz 1/2 maas, and the standard 16oz pub glasses. Lee's Retreat Brewpub will also have a special menu for the weekend.

The Blue & Gray Oktoberfest is a family friendly event, with game and crafts for the kids too. 

Complete details on activities can be found here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Drink and Live Longer

Not only does an alcoholic drink or or two add enjoyment to your life, a new study suggests it will also add years to your life.
But a new paper in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research suggests that — for reasons that aren't entirely clear — abstaining from alcohol does tend to increase one's risk of dying, even when you exclude former problem drinkers. The most shocking part? Abstainers' mortality rates are higher than those of heavy drinkers. 
Moderate drinking, which is defined as one to three drinks per day, is associated with the lowest mortality rates in alcohol studies. Moderate alcohol use (especially when the beverage of choice is red wine) is thought to improve heart health, circulation and sociability, which can be important because people who are isolated don't have as many family members and friends who can notice and help treat health problems.

The report acknowledges that there may other factors involved, such as previous health issues of non-drinkers, socioeconomic class, and physical activity. However, over a twenty year period, even accounting for those variables, the report states, "mortality rates were highest for those who were not current drinkers, regardless of whether they used to be alcoholics, second highest for heavy drinkers and lowest for moderate drinkers."

Or maybe happy people simply live longer.

See "Why Do Heavy Drinkers Outlive Nondrinkers?" for the complete story.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Thirty Years!

September 15, 1984. That's the day, thirty short years ago, that Colleen and I made our promise before God that we would spend the rest of our lives together. And it's been a wonderful and amazing thirty years. We've had our share of both joy and sadness. We've gone through times of plenty, as well as the inevitable lean periods. But whether we are experiencing immense happiness, or unimaginable sorrow, we have had each other to lean on.

I cannot imagine my life without this beautiful lady. No matter what trials life may bring, I am thankful she is by my side. When life brings joy, I am thankful that she is there to share it. I thank God every night for her presence in my life. I give thanks again every morning that He put us together, and gave us the son we have raised.

In trying to write this post, through multiple drafts, I came to realize that there is little I can say that doesn't sound cliché. It also made me think about how true and lasting love, and (real) marriage itself, has become cliché and even passé in our culture. Thats too bad. To my shame I am often better at describing a beer than expressing my undying love for my wife. I am, nonetheless, forever blessed by the commitment we began those thirty years ago.

The photos may fade, but love grows stronger with time. Happy Anniversary Colleen. I love you and look forward to the next thirty years.

 But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female. For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother; and shall cleave to his wife. And they two shall be in one flesh. Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. --Mark 10:6-9

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Season's First Oktoberfest Bier

Even though they've been on the shelves for more than a few weeks, I had not yet opened any of the usual "fall seasonal" beers, the Harvest Ales, the Pumpkin Ales, and the Oktoberfest Bier. Colleen and I headed down to Deutschland Downtown Saturday evening to enjoy dinner in the Biergarten and to start the Oktoberfest tasting season. The restaurant's Facebook page noted they had "a few Oktoberfest biers that just arrived from Germany" and I was looking forward to enjoying a few Märzens with my dinner. Unfortunately, the European kegs need a special adaptor to hook up to the restaurant's tap system. That problem will be fixed soon I'm told. The only Oktoberfest beer on hand was the classic Paulaner Oktoberfest Märzen. So that's what we ordered, it's not like that's a bad option anyway.

Yes, we poured them into glasses.

We were told the Biergarten had not yet been dried out from the afternoon's rain so we opted for a table indoors. Colleen ordered her favorite, Schnitzel, with Sauerkraut, substituting a dumpling with gravy for the Spätzle — just to try something different. I opted for Weisswurst with Sauerkraut and German Potato Salad. Both dishes were, as always, very enjoyable. We lingered over another round of Paulaners while we debated our dessert choices.

The dessert selections for the evening included Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (Black Forest Cake) and Bavarian Chocolate Puffs. We opted to order one of each. The Bavarian Puffs were served with whipped cream on the side and were enjoyable. The Black Forest Cake was a surprisingly delicious treat. I often find this sort of dessert to be a tad too rich for my tastes. However, I was continually reaching across the table to snare another fork full off of Colleen's plate. The moist cake with cherry topping and fresh whipped cream made a fine finish to the meal. Perhaps we'll need to order two next time.

We enjoyed our time dining inside but we both agreed that we prefer the open Biergarten over the small dining room. We're looking forward to getting back soon, and often, before the weather turns for the worse.

I see that the post about our previous visit is listed just a few stories down. I expect the frequent report trend just might continue for a while, as there are wursts and German beers, and desserts, yet to be enjoyed in the Biergarten at Deutschland Downtown. And I'm looking forward to seeing what other German beers will make an appearance!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Five O'Clock Friday: Beer For Cold Nights

As the weather turns cooler, it's time to recall the sage advice of Cliff Clavin.

Have a wonderful weekend. And stay warm.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Prayers For Our Nation

Today is a fitting day to reflect on the precipice at which we find ourselves. More so than in all of the last 13 years, our Nation sits vulnerable, with a failed leader and a citizenry afraid to confront the evil in front of us. Our enemy's tactic of crying "islamophobia" scares the meek into accepting and excusing barbarism. Too many Americans, even fellow Christians, are willing to coexist with evil. We see the result of a cooperation with evil in the genocide of Christians taking place in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. Yet, the ignorant continue to make excuses and look for good where there can be none. We have seen "lone wolf" jihad in our own country for decades, without alarm. How many warnings will be ignored, how much more sway will evil be given, before there is no escape?

On this somber anniversary of Satan's attack on our country, let us pray that this encroaching evil is vanquished from our land, and that we may someday live in safety and peace.

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
cast into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls.

If we shall not live in peace, I pray we don't die "cowering in place". I make a plea to all my fellow Christians, and to my fellow Catholics in particular. Do not become complacent. "Turning the other cheek" does not mean acquiescence, it does not mean surrender. We must stand up to the silent surrender in the courts, and by those in political office. Political correctness is weakness, and weakness loses to oppression every time. The enemy is here, hiding in plain site. Innocent people are being martyred by muslims in America today. The coming battle will be both spiritual and corporal. Heed the words of Theodore Roosevelt who noted at the turn of the 20th century, "Christianity was saved in Europe solely because the peoples of Europe fought." Sadly, it may now be too late for a Christian Europe. If we too fail to stand strong now, in the words of Archbishop Amel Nona, we in the West "will become the victims of the enemy [we] have welcomed."

[Portions of this rant were originally published on Gabriel Possenti Shooters.]

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

September USPA at Fredericksburg

On Saturday morning I volunteered to help set up the USPSA match held by the Fredericksburg Practical Shooters. They're trying something new at the club this year. The set up crew can optionally shoot the match Saturday afternoon, which is an enticing offer. There's the downside of having labored all morning before shooting, but it also leaves Sunday open for other activities. Besides preferring to devote Sunday to family matters, I prefer a day to recover from shooting before returning to work on Monday. Although when I saw the weekend weather prediction on Friday I was questioning my decision. There was a predicted 14 degree cooling on Sunday, which I think in actuality ended up closer to a 20 degree differential.

The setup crew got started at 7:00AM loading target stands and poppers onto the trailer. We benefited from the reuse of walls and fault lines left in place from last weekend's Area 8 Championship match. Six stages and a Classifier were in place by about 10:30AM. We took a break to relax and get geared up while the match directors did the final target placement and review. By the time we fired the first shot a little after 11:00AM we were already feeling the effect of the heat.

I did get videos of most of my stages, which are linked in the following descriptions, for those interested. As fair warning I recently discovered that YouTube had chosen "Comedy" as the default category for my shooting videos. (That's just mean.) Stage 1, "Gravity" was a quick course with targets engaged from both ends of a wall. Shots from either end required a significant lean but were not too difficult. I didn't get into the position I wanted at the end, and needed to adjust my footing several times.

The next stage, "The Hollow" was an interesting course with the free-fire zone being a cross-shaped area. One had to be extremely cognizant of muzzle direction with retreating, and unfortunately there were a couple DQ's due to breaking the 180. There was a swinging target whose activation popper I hit early in the run, figuring the swinger would have slowed by the time I engaged the target. In fact, it had completely stopped when I got to the right wing of the course, which was good for a couple of A hits, but caused me momentary confusion wondering "Where's the swinger?"

Stage 3, "The Outsider" was a "running" stage, set up in the large bay at the range. There were long sprints between shooting positions, but also a fun "shoot on the move" finish on the last leg. Stage 4 was the Classifier 13-07, "Double Deal." The shooter starts seated, holding a pair of "playing cards," with the loaded gun on the table. Quick and close range shots were required.

Stage 5, "Pet," featured the "tank" mockup from the Area 8 match. The shooter stands inside the three walls, with the empty gun and all reloads coming from a shelf. All the targets are engaged from small side ports or through the small "gun barrels" coming from the front. All the views are extremely restricted. Adding to the challenge, when I leaned forward to see through the shooting ports, my sweat, which was flowing freely by this point, ran directly into my eyes, which burned and made seeing clearly quite difficult and caused a lot of blinking on my part. Still, a fun and out-of-the-ordinary stage.

"Walk the Line" was the stage that the setup crew was talking about with some angst all morning. The shooter's weak hand was tethered to a cable that was strung behind the shooting area, forcing the entire stage to be shot strong hand only. The paper and falling popper targets were not all that close either. In order to reload, you had to step backwards out of the shooting area to gain enough slack to use your support hand to do the reload. Since my reloads were not planned but done when I hit slide lock, this added confusion causing a bit of backtracking. Despite the unusual challenge, I was actually looking forward to this stage. I surprised myself on this one, hitting the steel on the first or second shot, and earning just two misses, one of which was on the swinging target.

The final and seventh stage, "Judith", was another table start, with an unloaded gun. The 15 targets were easily grouped into 3 groups of 10 shots, which meant slide lock reloads for Production shooters, though all done on the move. At the end of my run, the timer read 3.8 seconds, which was obviously an error, so I earned a range equipment malfunction reshoot. On the second run, I made a last minute change to my plan, which in theory, would have avoided the slide lock reloads. Unfortunately, an extra shot threw out that new plan, which wasn't well-embedded in my head. I had a noticeably slower start getting up and around the table as well. Looking at the posted scores, I apparently had a no-shoot hit I didn't know about. In any event, I got to shoot that much more, and that's not a bad thing.

Despite the oppressive heat this was an excellent match. I felt really good about most of the stages. Apparently many other shooters did so too, as my overall finish was lower than I expected. Match Directors Alan and Clay made good use of the Area 8 props left on the ground to create a challenging and fun match. I am sure even those who shot the championship found new challenges and excitement too. My friend Greg successfully shot his first USPSA match and I think he's hooked.

It was indeed a long day. We spent over 9 hours on the range, in the sun, and I was quite exhausted when I got home. After a shower and a beer, I found myself taking a rare, but welcome nap. Though I was a bit envious of those shooting in the substantially cooler weather on Sunday, I was also quite thankful for that day of rest before returning to work on Monday.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Fredericksburg's Biergarten

Having seen on Facebook that the long-awaited Biergarten was open at Deutschland Downtown, Colleen and I headed down for an early dinner Friday evening. When we parked and walked the half-block to the restaurant, we were reminded that Summer had finally arrived in Virginia and were unsure how enjoyable it would be eating outside. We entered the garden behind the restaurant, and found it to be well-shaded and protected from the heat by the surrounding buildings. It was surprisingly pleasant.

The beer selection had increased slightly from our last visit. Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock was an added draft. There was also a small selection of bottled Bavarian beers. I chose the Doppelbock and Colleen opted for König Ludwig Weissbier. We sipped our beers, and enjoyed a wurst sampler appetizer plate while perusing the menu.

I eventually settled on the evening special of Sauerbraten served with Spätzle and German Potato salad. Colleen chose her favorite, Wiener Schnitzel, served with Sauerkraut and Spätzle. The few kinks in service we saw during our previous visit were gone, and the service was attentive and prompt. Even the serving proportions seemed balanced now. The Sauerbraten was very tasty, with a nice vinegar twang to it. While it would be hard for anyone to beat my memories of "Nana's" German Potato salad, the Deutschland Downtown version is well done.

For dessert, I opted for a bottle of Ayinger Altbairisch Dunkel, while Colleen splurged on German Chocolate Pecan Cheesecake. I did assist her in conquering that delicious treat.

We had a very enjoyable evening in the Biergarten at Deutschland Downtown. The food is excellent, the service was cheerful and efficient. Of course, the beer selection is appropriate. The proprietors seem to be making an effort to "keep it real." The beers are German, with Yuengling Lager being the one concession. The food menu is for the most part traditional fare; the kids menu has a "chicken fingers" selection, but that's about the extent of the "Americanized" menu. It's good to see, and the growing crowd as we finished our meal was a good sign. We certainly look forward to going back.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Victory to Open Virginia Brewpub

This is exciting news...
Victory Brewing today [September 3, 2014] announced plans to expand its presence in the mid-atlantic region as the company looks to open a new brewpub in Leesburg, Va. It’s the company’s fourth such establishment, but the first outside of its home state of Pennsylvania. 
Located inside a 110,560 sq. ft. mixed-used development belonging to the private equity real estate firm L4 Capital Partners, the brewpub, which will span three floors, is scheduled to open in the second quarter of 2016.
According the Brewbound report, the 13,500 sq. ft. brewpub will have seating for 300. They will serve the brewery’s established beers as well as site-specific recipes. While the planned opening isn't until the second quarter of 2016, this will be a welcome addition to the Virginia craft beer scene.

Meanwhile, we're still awaiting a decision on a possible Richmond home for Stone Brewing.

See "Victory to Open Brewpub in Virginia" for more details.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Five O'Clock Friday: Challenge Accepted

Have a great weekend!

Cody's Brew to Fight Childhood Cancer

BadWolf Brewing has teamed up with the Cody's Crew Foundation to help raise awareness of Neuroblastoma, a deadly childhood cancer. Cody died of the disease when he was just six years old. Now, his father Mickey, and Jeremy at BadWolf have created a special beer dedicated to raising awareness about Neuroblastoma and childhood cancers. Fox News DC did a wonderful piece on Cody's Brew this week.

As you can see from this picture from BadWolf's Facebook page, Cody's Brew is available now. Stop by for a pint or two and help a good cause. All proceeds from Cody's Brew will be donated to the Cody's Crew Foundation.

If the video embed doesn't work work, so be sure to head over to Fox News DC to see the great video report on Cody's Brew.

Credit Where Credit Is Due

Or maybe not.

Meanwhile, the "no strategy" president relaxes on the golf course.

He won’t call a war, a war. He won’t call Islamist terrorists, Islamist terrorists. This president is a terrified little man in a great big job he can’t do.” — Lt. Col. Ralph Peters

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Vegan "Cheese"

"Real vegan cheese." Using those three words together make as much sense as using "Obama" and "transparency" in the same sentence. According to an Indiegogo project fund raising page,
Real Vegan Cheese is a not a cheese substitute! It all begins with regular old baker's yeast. Through synthetic biology, we engineer our yeast to become milk-protein factories, churning out real milk proteins (known as caseins). These milk proteins are then combined with water, vegan sugar and oil to make a kind of milk which is ultimately converted into Real Vegan Cheese using the age-old cheese-making process.
This seems like word games to me. By definition, cheese is "the curd of milk separated from the whey and prepared in many ways as a food." The key word here is milk. The milk comes from mammals, and therefore can't be vegan. A "synthetic" process is used to produce this "real" milk. If it was indeed real milk, it certainly would not qualify as vegan. If it's not real milk, then it can't be cheese. Simple logic.

In my experience, vegans also eschew synthetic and artificially altered foods. Apparently the group behind vegan "cheese" has found a weakness in that vegan resolve. Whatever you want to call this lab-produced product, "real cheese" hardly seems accurate. What's next? Real vegan prime rib?

Higher Stakes Beer Crime

We've seen some interesting beer-related crimes recently, but a robbery at the Minnesota State Fair reaches a new level.
A popular beer booth at the Minnesota State Fair was robbed last Friday night. 
The State Fair Police say the suspect was armed and the victims' hands were bound behind their backs.

The robbery occurred at the Minnesota Craft Beer booth in the Agriculture building. According to State Fair Police Public Information Officer Brooke Blakey, at least two suspects took more than $10,000. Blakey says police believe the victims were able to free themselves and call for help within 10 minutes.

$10,000? That's obviously a popular beer stand.

I am at a loss to explain how the robber was able to pull off the crime. The Minnesota State Fair is a well-known "gun free zone." Firearms have long been expressly prohibited at the fair. Surely, no criminal would ignore a "no guns" sign.

See "Police: Armed Robbers at Minnesota State Fair Flee with $10K" for more.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Labor Day Range Time

On Monday morning I met a friend at the range for early morning shooting practice. I hadn't been shooting for a few weeks, and my intention to hit the range over the weekend never materialized into action. Greg is a newer shooter who's looking to start shooting USPSA matches and was hoping to do a little more than stand and shoot at a single target. We setup a few USPSA cardboard targets, as well as a couple of shooting boxes, and got to work.

Taking turns running the timer, we spent the morning running different drills. Even in practice, the sound of the beep, and knowing the clock is running can have an adverse affect on your shooting. We started out simple; shooting pairs on just one target at various distances. We also spent some time working on quick draws, with a repeatable grip, putting a single shot on target from close up. For a short time we worked on movement between two shooting boxes. We even tortured ourselves with the shot calling drill from the Steve Anderson class.

Greg specifically wanted to work on multiple targets from 15 yards and beyond, so we spent much of our time doing that. I eventually added in the challenge of no-shoot targets. First covering up one side of a target, then adding a second white target so that only the central A zone was showing. We started out shooting at two target arrays, eventually moving to three, the last target in the the array being the restricted one. I found it very interesting that I shot a lot of A-C combos on the first two targets, but consistently avoided the no-shoots and hit double Alphas on the last. And more often than not, those two Alpha hits were in a very tight group. I obviously concentrated on the sight alignment and trigger press much more intently on that target, even though I felt like I was not rushing on the open targets. It was a very enlightening exercise.

I would have liked to have worked on that drill more, but unfortunately we soon had a return visit from the range officer on duty. He had come by earlier, watched us shoot for a bit, and then left. I assumed we were not getting any "you are shooting too fast" warnings. But on his second visit we were admonished. After a few minutes trying to ascertain the definition of "too fast" we learned that when we were shooting just two targets we were fine, but when we added the third target to the drill, even though the shooting pace was the same, we were now in the "out of control" zone with six shots in a string. Someday, just maybe, we'll get that private range where the rules are static, understandable, and logical.

Despite the reprimand, it was an exceptionally enjoyable morning. When the 2 hour practice was over,  I had only put about 100 rounds down range. Sharing advice with Greg also was a great way to review my own habits. In fact, this turned out to be one of the most beneficial practices I've done in a while, despite the low round count. It's always a thrill to help introduce another shooter to the sport. In addition, it forced me to concentrate on the basics. I'm also excited to be bringing a new shooter to his first USPSA match this coming weekend!

The early morning session left plenty of time for yard work, followed by a few hours of sitting around the pool with friends. It was a fitting way to mark the unofficial end of Summer.

North Carolina Vacation Beer Tally

Despite it coinciding with Virginia Craft Beer Month, our week on the Outer Banks, provided an opportunity to focus my beer explorations on beers from North Carolina. The sixteen different beers I had during our week, were but a small piece of the variety offered by local brewers. About half of those beers were enjoyed fresh, right at the source, at Full Moon and Weeping Radish breweries.
  • Terrapin Hopsecutioner
  • Mother Earth Weeping Willow Wit
  • Natty Greene's Southern Dry-hopped Pale Ale
  • Natty Greene's Freedom American IPA 
  • Natty Greene's Elm Street IPA (2014)
  • Weeping Radish Corolla Gold
  • Weeping Radish Bitter Bee
  • Weeping Radish Ruddy Radish
  • Weeping Radish Black Radish
  • Big Boss War Hawk
  • Big Boss High Roller IPA
  • Full Moon Lost Colony English Brown Ale
  • Full Moon Charon Stout
  • Full Moon Over Time APA
  • Sierra Nevada Flipside IPA (2014)
  • Highland St. Teresa Pale Ale
With one exception, I avoided the Western breweries that had recently moved to the state, since those are readily available at home. It did cause me a moment's pause when viewing the North Carolina beer shelf at the Trio Wine, Beer and Cheese store I spied the cans from Oskar Blues, a brewery I still associate with my trips to Colorado.

We only brought a few beers home with us, in contrast to last year when I struggled to find room in the beer fridge for the beer bounty. We did indeed bring back many good memories.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

I am a Virginian ... And I Carry

A new promotional video from the Virginia Citizens Defense League.

Do you? If not, how many more reasons do you need?

Another Virginia Brewery

This one isn't new, and you probably won't be getting any beers from it. 
WILLIAMSBURG, Virginia — College students have always had a taste for beer, and archaeologists have uncovered new evidence at the College of William and Mary to prove it. 
The remains of what is likely an 18th century on-campus brewery were discovered just outside of the nation's oldest college building when campus officials were looking to widen a sidewalk.  
School officials say the discovery near the Wren Building will allow them to tell a broader story about campus life in the Colonial era that involved the interaction of slaves, Native Americans, faculty and students.

The brewery is believed to have provided beer for students and faculty at the school during the Colonial era. It's well-known that low alcohol beer was a common replacement for the often unsafe drinking water during that period. The brewery probably existed until the Revolutionary War. Interestingly, the brewery remains were found just a foot below a frequently trafficked area of the campus.

Founded in 1693, the College of William and Mary is the second oldest institute of higher learning in the United States.

See "Remains of 18th century brewery found on Va. campus at College of William and Mary" for pictures and more on this interesting find.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Virginia Beer Month Tally

As promised, I did manage to limit my beer choices to Virginia-brewed beverages for most of Virginia Craft Beer Month. However, a week spent vacationing on the Outer Banks, meant a week focused on North Carolina beers. The weeks prior to vacation were naturally extra busy, which also limited my time for "exploration." Nonetheless, I had no trouble sticking to Virginia craft beers in the time I had.

While the list wasn't extensive, nine of the sixteen were new to me. That's a successful Craft Beer Month in my book.

  • O’Connor El Guapo Agave IPA
  • Port City Optimal Wit
  • Parkway Get Bent Mountain IPA
  • Champion Missile IPA *
  • Starr Hill Grateful Pale Ale
  • Devils Backbone Reilly’s Red
  • Old Bust Head English Pale Ale
  • Old Bust Head Chukker Pilsner *
  • Old Bust Head Wildcat IPA *
  • Old Bust Head Shorthorn Pale Ale *
  • Old Bust Head Vixen Irish Red *
  • Old Bust Head Chinquapin Chestnut Porter *
  • Old Bust Head Gold Cup Russian Imperial Stout *
  • Lost Rhino New River Pale Ale
  • Lickinghole Creek Magic Beaver *
  • Lickinghole Creek Til Sunset  *

* Denotes a beer tried for the first time during Virginia Craft Beer Month.