Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Circle of Time

After I posted the pic of my glass of Sierra Nevada Celebration yesterday, I was looking through old Musings and found an interesting coincidence. Last year on the same date, November 28, I also shared a post about the same beer.

In an another similarity, last night's glass of this seasonal favorite was also the first I enjoyed this season. And perhaps a tradition is born.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Go Hokies!

With a 23 - 20 win over rival Virginia, the Hokies continue the streaks! We're finally relaxing after a long day Charlottesville and this seemed liked fitting libation to cap off the day.

It was a nail-biter of a game and great send off for Coach Beamer.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday Range Time Too!

After a good range practice session yesterday, I returned this morning to join a couple of friends for some shooting fun. We got an early start to beat the crowds that were sure come later. The time was spent "just shooting" and enjoying friendly conversation. In fact, we probably spent as much time chatting as shooting, but that's the way it should be when you're just out to have fun.

I got to shoot a gun I hadn't shot before, and I also spent some time shooting my usual carry gun. I don't shoot it as often as a I'd like, mostly because it means cleaning it right away before I carry it again. Interestingly, I had last cleaned this gun less than a month ago, yet when I fired the first shot, I watched a clump of lint float away from the back of the slide. Note to self: Keep an eye on that, especially since it's sweater season now.

It was a treat to hit the range two days in a row, spending time with friends doing what we love to do, on another unseasonably warm day. And I'm pretty sure we had more fun than the folks fighting the crowds at the stores.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Range Time

While enjoying my coffee Thanksgiving morning, relaxing after Mass and a big breakfast, I started thinking about some range time. I've only gotten out to shoot once in about the last six weeks. Looking through old Thanksgiving-related Musings posts, I noted that I had been to the range previously on Thanksgiving day, and had the range to myself. I figured why not try again?

Sure enough, the park was empty except for a lone fisherman. I took my place near one of the wider berms and set up a couple of IDPA targets. The ground was covered in leaves and pine needles, so I also set out a small tarp to catch brass (at least some of it anyway.)

I eventually spread the targets apart further and spent some time working on transitions between the two. Shooting on the move and head-only shots got some practice too. After the requisite visit from the RO, and no admonishments, I snuck in some close in, and fast, multiple shot, point shooting.

It was a beautiful afternoon, and I greatly enjoyed the time shooting, being thankful for the freedom to do so. I was surprised to have the range to myself on a 60° November day, but grateful for that as well. It was a wonderful addition to the holiday celebration.

Happy Thanksgiving

To all my friends and family, I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving. As we in the United States set aside a day to give thanks and be grateful for all of our many blessings, please take some time to reflect on the meaning of the day.

Today, as every day, I give thanks for my loving family, my faith and the freedom to practice it, my health, for my friends, and for all the freedoms I enjoy as an American. In these perilous times we should be especially conscious of our freedoms, as we are reminded frequently just how tenuous they are. We should pray that the oppressors of our freedom, those within our borders and enemies abroad, are quickly conquered.

Whatever you do today, however you choose to mark the day, I wish you the best and hope your holiday is filled with joy.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Humor

Starting off the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend with a little humor.

"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tech Specs Make Good Advice

I was looking at kegerators online recently and had to laugh when I saw this in a product description:
Holds either a 1/2 barrel keg or a 1/4 slim keg. The unit converts between a refrigerator and a beverage cooler to suit your needs. Note: Does not hold Coors and Miller brand kegs.
I know, technically, that's because those kegs are larger than standard kegs. Still, if I ever added one of these to my basement, that would be one of the rules of the house.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Remembering Blessed Miguel Pro

[Reposted from November 23, 2013.]

November 23 is the Feast Day of Blessed Miguel Pro. Born on January 13, 1891, in Guadalupe, Mexico, Miguel Pro was ordained a Jesuit priest in Belgium in 1925. He returned to his home country in 1926, in the midst of that country's Cristeros War. After being falsely accused of an attempted bombing, Father Pro was executed by government forces without trial

Blessed Miguel Pro's final request was to be allowed to pray to his heavenly Father.

After which he refused a blindfold and faced the firing squad bravely, proclaiming ¡Viva Cristo Rey!

Father Pro's executioners initially failed at their task, and the deed was finished at point blank range.

I am saddened, but hardly surprised, at the ignorance of the American public regarding the persecution of Catholics, and of the Cristero War that took place in Mexico in 1926 through 1929. Some 250,000 people lost their lives in a persecution that was supported by the government of the United States with both funds and air support. Given the ever-growing intolerance towards Christians, especially Catholics, in the United States, we would do well to remember.

Christ the King, by the intercession of Blessed Miguel Pro, I beg you to answer my prayers. Give me the grace and the strength necessary to follow your heroic example and to live my Catholic faith in spite of all temptations and adversities. Amen.

Images from Wikipedia.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

November IDPA at Rivanna

The last IDPA match of the year at Rivanna was one to remember. The stages were interesting and challenging, and simply put, just plain fun. The morning started off quite cool; I watched the dashboard thermometer bounce between 26° and 32° as I made the drive to Charlottesville. However the sun was shining bright once we started shooting. making for a pleasant morning.

Our squad began on what was probably the most intimidating stage of the match. You started off engaging three targets in tactical sequence while backing up. Then from cover there were four more targets partially hidden behind three non-threats. And, in front of each of those non-threats were small steel plates, a miss on any would be a hit on a non-threat. I ended the stage 8 points down, hitting the steel and avoiding all non-threats. I breathed a sigh of relief after that one. 

Next up was a long course of 18 targets, all of which required one head shot each. Starting out, there were three targets to be engaged while seated. Next, three more to be shot on the move. Finishing those, you moved to a port in a wall to find six more targets. Moving to the last position, you went prone to engage six more sideways or upside down targets through a ground level port. I have shot my pistol from prone only a few times in my life, so I was looking forward to it, though not totally sure how I was going to do it. At the end all my hits were the the required head shots. Alas, I managed to skip one of the targets though the wall port, and earned 5 down and a FTN. 

After two stages focusing on accuracy, it was time for some one-handed shooting. The next stage started with the gun placed on a barrel in front of the shooter. Picking it up, the first two of five targets were engaged with three rounds each, shooting weak-hand only. Switching the gun to the other hand, the last three targets also got three hits each, strong-hand only. All the the targets were covered by t-shirts so hits were not visible on the targets. Ending up just 3 points down was a nice pick-me-up after the skipped target on the prior stage.

The last stage we shot was another fun one. It started out with the classic "drag your buddy to safety" scenario, a stage set up I had not experienced. Your loaded gun was placed on the dummy's chest to start. At the start you ran to "Earl," retrieved the gun, and dragged the body to safety. There were three targets to be engaged as you backed up while pulling Earl. Two of the targets were quick up-and-down targets activated by dragging the dummy backwards. Earl had to be pulled around the corner behind a wall; I watched many shooters drop the body after engaging the last up-and-down target, earning procedural penalties. After getting Earl to safety, there were three targets to engaged with three rounds each, through a snow fence vision barrier. The final position had three more targets, engaged from cover, requiring a neutralizing hit (at least -0 or -1). 

I too dropped Earl after shooting the last mover, but remembered right away and dragged him to safety. Alas, I forget about the three hit requirement on the middle three targets. I did shoot one of them three times as I made up a shot I didn't feel good about. So at the end, I was 14 points down, 10 of which were earned from that oversight. 

Overall, it was an exceptionally fun match. I felt I shot very well, excepting the mental errors. I've been struggling a bit with accuracy lately, so was very happy to shoot so well this match. Due to a busy schedule, at work and home, I have not shot at all, nor even dry fired, since the last Rivanna IDPA match, five weeks ago. A few practice draws in the safe area before the match was the extent of my practice the last month. This was likely the last competition of the year for me, hopefully I'll get in some practice before January's matches.

All non-threats were safe

Saturday, November 21, 2015

A Surprise Gift

Early Musings readers may remember the frequent postings about Clipper City Brewing. The Baltimore brewery is one of my old time favorites. Even though it's now officially called Heavy Seas Brewing, I still tend to use the old name.

Friday evening we enjoyed dinner at Capital Ale House and had a brief conversation with one of the managers, who always makes a point to stop by for a chat. He mentioned that we missed a Heavy Seas "Steal the Glass" night earlier in the week. I expressed my disappointment, and then shared some stories of some of my Clipper City beer adventures. A short while later, he came back and said, "We have a few extras" and set a nice logo Heavy Seas glass in front of me. It made my evening. Sometimes it's the simple things in life that bring a smile.

And I'm sure I'll put it to good use soon.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Flying Dog: Cookies and Beer Holiday Pack

Flying Dog Brewing has once again teamed up with Otterbein's Bakery to bring us a holiday beer and cookie collection. As much fun as we have with food and beer pairings, I think I might enjoy the "beer and cookies" concept the most. Because, well, cookies.

The four pairings this season are:
  • Citrus Saison with Sugar Cookies
  • Belgian Pale Ale with Orange White Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Cranberry IPA with Lemon Cookies
  • Fig and Fennel Stout with Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

After an afternoon of bathroom painting, Colleen and I rewarded ourselves by trying out a couple of the beers and suggested sweets. First up was the Citrus Saison and Sugar Cookie combo. Flying Dog Citrus Saison is brewed with grapefruit zest and peppercorns, both of which come through in the aroma. The flavor is citrus, with a mild yeasty "funk" and a touch of pepper in the finish. The sweet cookies seem to accentuate the citrus notes, at the same time having their own sweetness enhanced by the flavors in the beer.

Next up was the Cranberry IPA, paired with the Lemon Cookies. Flying Dog Cranberry IPA pours a bright, clear orange color with a thick white head. The aroma has some sweet fruit notes with a mix of citrus. I tasted the Lemon Cookie first (couldn't resist) and when I sipped the beer, the fruit aspect of the flavor popped out right away. After a few more sips, I picked up more grassy bitterness, especially in the finish. Alternating back and forth, I was amazed at how much the cookie gave more of a tropical fruit splash to the beer. With or without the cookie accompaniment, I enjoyed this mildly flavored IPA quite a bit.

We still have two more beer and cookie pairings to try from the Flying Dog Holiday pack. And we still have another bathroom to paint, so perhaps I'll save them for a reward at the end of that project too.

The beer, and cookies, reviewed here were promotional samples from the brewery. My impressions are provided of my own free will.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Red Cup Drama

Over the past week the mainstream media has been reporting that Christians are outraged because the Starbuck's coffee chain has supposedly declared a war on Christmas. The basis of the media's claim is some self-proclaimed "American evangelist" who took offense that the seasonal cup at the coffee chain is red. That's right, red, like the vast majority of all Christmas decorations. Apparently Starbuck's removed snowflakes, polar bears, and candy canes from the cups. Well, I have news for the publicity hound who whined about this, those things aren't Christian symbols anyway.

That anyone would try to make an issue out of a red coffee cup at Christmas is unfathomable to me. Christians are losing their heads, literally, around the world over their faith, and a red cup merits outrage? Just as ridiculous is the lazy and dishonest media running with the story and making it seem like there is some massive outrage among Christians. Quite the opposite of their coverage when muslims riot and kill Christians over some perceived desecration of a book — also just another paper product.

Frankly, I haven't heard from any of my fellow Christians who have taken offense. Sure, some Christians don't patronize the chain for other reasons, but a holiday red cup isn't one of them. This media-manufactored "controversy" actually says more about the media in this country, than it does about Christians or Starbuck's.

Oh, by the way, you can still by Starbuck's Christmas Blend Coffee, Christmas-themed gift cards, and even Advent Calendars from the chain.

Am I offended by red cups? Yea, if I have to drink beer out of them.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

To All Veterans, Thank You

A grateful nation pauses today to offer thanks to our thanks to our veterans. Sadly, it seems that lately we're seeing a drift, headed by the left and the current administration, toward disrespect of our veterans, and the military in general. Despite the ramblings of this ingrate population segment, our veterans should know that there are those of us who remember, and appreciate, your service. Our nation is forever in your debt.

Cheers veterans!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Yep, It's Monday

Mondays are more tolerable when the weekends are filled with new beer and trips to the range. Alas, this one was not.

That's just how it goes sometimes.

H/T Borepatch

Friday, November 6, 2015

Treat Guns Like Cars?

I am typically distrustful of American citizens who would advocate ignoring the Constitution of the United States. Despite that, I did give thought to this Letter to the Editor published in our local newspaper.
To operate a motor vehicle you must be licensed by the state and pass driving and written exams. You also have to pass an eye exam, because if you can't see you have no business driving.

Every vehicle you own must be registered with the DMV, and your tags, stickers and insurance kept current. Get ticketed and the DMV puts points on your license. Get too many points and the DMV can suspend your license. Drive on a suspended license and you can go to jail.

Why such strict regulation of vehicles and drivers? Because vehicles moving at high speeds can be very dangerous, and if the driver is impaired or the brakes are faulty, innocent people can die. So we comply with these safety regulations, which have saved millions of lives.

But what about the 13,140 people who are shot dead in this country every year? Regardless of criminal history or mental status, anyone can buy any kind of guns they want because background checks are not required on private sales. And that’s perfectly legal with zero accountability. That’s insane.

Gun ownership should be licensed and regulated much like drivers and motor vehicles.
The first requirement for licensing should be medical proof of mental competency, because someone not mentally competent has no more business with a gun than a blind person has driving.

The biggest problem with guns today is gun owners who are nowhere near mentally competent.

I’m a gun owner who welcomes strict gun regulation. Unfortunately too many in this country fiercely oppose any gun regulation at all, and couldn’t care less that innocent people continue being slaughtered because of it.

We must find a way to get control over this license to massacre that the Second Amendment has become. 

The author incorrectly equates a Constitutional right to a State-granted privilege and also equates gun "ownership" with car "operation." However, I was willing to ignore those flaws in the proposal and give it fair consideration. Unfortunately I was unable to fully reply in my own Letter to the Editor, as the paper restricts letters to a mere 300 words.

In the United States, anyone can buy a car with absolutely no background check, whether dealing with a private seller or a licensed car dealer. Under this proposal, gun dealers should no longer be required to perform background checks. Equalizing the regulations would also remove any waiting periods to buy a gun. Since there are no age restrictions on buying cars, this proposal makes gun purchases available to all as well. Like cars, there would be no restrictions on the type or quantity of guns purchased either. By extension, the free giving of guns as gifts, as with cars, would also be allowed.

To operate a car on a public street, one must register the car with the State. Of course, the ultimate purpose of this is actually taxation, not regulation. In addition to registering the vehicle to be taxed, one must also demonstrate a very elementary knowledge of traffic laws, and exhibit a basic ability to operate a motor vehicle. These requirements are easily passed by thousands of fifteen and sixteen year olds every year. That initial requirement accomplished, anyone is free operate just about any type of car or truck, on any street, in every state in the country, for the rest of their lives, without retesting as long as they continue to obey the law, and pay a renewal fee every few years.

The registering of firearms, and paying for a permit to carry that gun concealed for self defense, is a repulsive idea to many gun owners. However, treating gun ownership like a license to drive would finally mean gun owners could carry their guns for self defense in every state. Like cars, we would also be able to possess our guns when going on to school property, and even drive to U.S. Postal Service parking lots, the same privileges granted every licensed driver.

Without ammunition, a gun is pretty useless, just as a car without gasoline is of little use. If we equalize the regulations, it would make ammo purchases also open to all without regulation, age restrictions, or ID requirements. Perhaps gun stores would become as ubiquitous as car dealers and gas stations. I am liking this proposal even better the more I think about it.

The author adds to the proposal by demanding "medical proof of mental competency" in order to own a gun. I am willing to see the same requirement of anyone granted the privilege to drive a car.

After consideration, I find myself willing to compromise and accept the proposal. While the interference of the State in a right is still offensive, treating gun ownership like a license to drive would make life as a gun owner subject to far fewer restrictions. It would also equalize the laws regarding guns across all localities. I want to thank the author, a supposed gun owner, for the thoughtful suggestions to reduce the inconveniences imposed on law abiding citizens when exercising our 2nd Amendment rights.

Obviously, my reply is written tongue in cheek. Intelligent people realize that equating gun ownership with driving a car is nonsense. That is the abysmal level of commonsense and intelligence we must deal with from the gun grabbers and hoplophobes. Personally, I'd prefer to simply ignore such people, or provide a much shorter, two word response.