Monday, February 29, 2016

A Firearm Themed Weekend

The last weekend in February saw a wide swing in the temperature from day to day, and was also filled with opportunity to enjoy time on the range. Given that the first weekend in March may bring more snow to the area, these days were most welcome.

On Saturday morning we met up with other Catholic shooting enthusiasts to mark the Feast Day of Saint Gabriel Possenti, the patron Saint of Handgunners. Though the temperature was below freezing, we enjoyed a fun couple of hours at the range shooting and talking about guns, politics and faith. It was a fun start to a busy Saturday. After warming up with a couple mugs of hot coffee, Colleen and I headed out for a visit to Tin Cannon Brewery in Gainesville. (Even the brewery name maintained the weekend's theme.)

Sunday morning I was again up early to head out to the Cavalier IDPA match. This month's match was a Classifier match so I took the opportunity to get classified in the Compact Carry Pistol (CCP) division with my SIG P239. I don't shoot this gun all that often, despite the fact that I do enjoy shooting it, and it shoots well for me.

I was moderately pleased with how I shot with the compact gun, though I barely missed a close range head shot early on. As I approached the target afterwards and saw the hole so close to the perforation I tried willing it up that 1/8" but it just didn't move. But what was most pleasing was the final stage with the 20 yard barricade shots. That's where it typically falls apart for me. This time I managed all 30 hits on paper for last stage. Although many of my hits were in the low -3 area of the targets, it was a good feeling to not have any misses there, especially with the small gun. It may have been the first time I did not have any misses on that stage of the classifier. I will have to work on shooting a bit higher up on the distant targets. I don't have my score for the match yet, but am happy to get a classification for CCP whatever if turns out to be. Given how much fun the P239 is to shoot, I may shoot in more often in matches.

Since I headed out early I beat the crowds, as with previous morning, the shooting fun ended early. Unlike Saturday morning, the temperature Sunday morning was in the upper 50's. Instead of numb fingertips, I actually worked up a bit of sweat under my ball cap.

Again, I did enjoy some hot coffee upon arriving home from the range. My coffee mug all weekend long was appropriately themed.

There's was even time found time to work my tax returns this weekend. I don't want men with guns coming to demand their cut of my hard-earned income.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Tin Cannon Brewing

We've been wanting to pay a visit to Tin Cannon Brewing in Gainesville, VA for quite some time, but have just never been able to make the trip. This weekend, lured by the release of their Big Pun Barleywine, we finally made it out.

After a fun morning at the range, we arrived at the busy brewpub mid-afternoon and grabbed a couple seats at the bar. There were 10 beers in tap, but we both started with half pints of Big Pun. This big beer checks in at an amazing 11.5% ABV, with a reddish-brown color and thin white head. The aroma is dark fruit and caramel. The rich flavor of dark fruit and mild sweetness is prevalent, owing to the addition of raisins during fermentation. A bitter citrus hoppiness moderates the sweetness creating a well-balanced flavor profile for such a big beer. The alcohol level is well-masked.

After grabbing some "loaded" fries from the food truck out back, we tried some of the other Tin Cannon beers. I ordered a Busted Pipe Black IPA to try next, and it was an excellent choice. The strong bitter hop flavor was somewhat surprising at first — the initial impression was likely influenced by the smooth caramel and dark fruit sweetness of the previous beer. By the second or third sip I was thoroughly enjoying the beer. This is probably one of the most richly flavored Black IPAs I recall having. The persistent off white head led to attractive lacing on the glass, from top to bottom.

Colleen selected Honey, We're On A Date Belgian-style Wheat as her second beer. The inclusion of dates in the brewing process gives this Wheat beer it's uniqueness. The dark fruit addition is muted but comes through in the finish.

By this time we were quite impressed with the beers at Tin Cannon. We had also happily noted that the brewpub offers its beers on both pint and half pint servings. This is something we've lamented the lack of at many other breweries we've visited over the years. In my opinion there no reason for a brewpub or "craft beer bar" to not offer the smaller serving size. Given the half-pint option, we decided to try another Tin Cannon selection.

The description of the Chocolate Covered Raspberry Stout was intriguing, but also gave us some trepidation. I've tried some other "fruited" Stouts in the past that were much too cloying and syrupy, Robitussin® Stouts is my name for such ales. But we had been pleased so far with the beers we had tried. Colleen noted specifically the raisin addition to Big Pun as a proper use of fruit, so we grabbed a final half pint of the Raspberry Stout. 

The aroma was just as the name suggested, chocolate covered raspberry, and the flavor carried on the theme perfectly. Dark bitter chocolate with an undertone of sweet raspberries, fruit not syrup, made for an enjoyable "dessert" for our tasting exploration.

We found the beers at Tin Cannon to be extremely well done and quite tasty. The service was friendly and attentive as well. I found it interesting though not disappointing, that at this time anyway, the ubiquitous Pale Ale and IPA was not part of the offerings. Tin Cannon is brewing beers that are adventurous and approachable at the same time. There were six beers still left untried, but that's something for another visit, a visit we hope to make in the near future.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Weekly Indoor Range Outing

After a less than stellar performance at last weekend's IDPA match, I was looking forward to getting to the range and confirming I could still pull the trigger with some success. Setting the target at distances between 10 and 20 yards and moving it around at each mag change added some variety. I also included strong and weak hand shooting in this week's practice session.

Of course, I'm well aware that relaxed shooting at an indoor range is hardly a prediction of match success. But putting a reasonably accurate 100 rounds downrange is enjoyable nonetheless.

Perhaps the most frustrating part of the trip was the revolver shooter next to me who dumped his spent brass into the range's brass bucket at each reload. I was sorely tempted to hand him my brass bag to fill.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Spencer Devon Winter Pale Ale

Until last weekend, we hadn't visited Spencer Devon Brewing in a few months. When we got back to the brew pub last weekend, I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were a number of new beers on tap. I was sorely tempted by a couple of the high ABV offerings, the Hush Hush Double IPA and The Chimneys Wee Heavy descriptions were particularly tempting. In the end I opted for the Fall Line Winter Pale Ale.

The Fall Line Winter Pale Ale came out bright, clear and with minimal head. The aroma is that of pine and citrus. The flavor is bitter citrus rind with resinous pine and tropical fruit. The beer is nicely balanced and leaves a mild, short-lived bitterness behind. At a very reasonable 5% ABV it hit the spot just right on a Sunday afternoon. So right in fact that I had another to go with my lunch.

Not only were there new beers on the menu, but several interesting food dishes were new as well. We started with a shared appetizer of Poutine; house-cut fries topped with Rocko’s Milk Stout gravy and cheese curds. After that I ordered a "Hot Brown." This is an open faced sandwich of braised pork, oven-roasted tomato, applewood-smoked bacon, cheddar cheese sauce, and a fried egg served on toast.

Piled high with braised pork and bacon, this brunch menu item was a belly-buster for sure. Every ingredient, pork, bacon, cheese, tomato and egg provided its own flavorful contribution to the platter. It was far from a "light" meal, but I enjoyed it thoroughly, right down to scraping the last bits of cheese off the plate with my finger.

As usual, we had a good time a Spencer Devon. The beers are always good and the food menu boasts flavorful accompaniments to the fine ales.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

That's a Mug, Not a Stein

Okay, semantics.

A few weeks ago I received an email solicitation from the SIG Sauer store for a J.P. Sauer & Sohn Beer Stein. I'm an unabashed SIG fan and a beer lover, but I resisted ordering the swag. For a while.

When the package arrived, I first noticed the light weight of the box. (Actually, I first noticed the damage to the box done by the USPS.) Upon unpacking I was at first disappointed in the size of the stein.

The stoneware stein is marked .5L, so it does actually hold a little more than 16 ounces. The handle is small, two fingers at most. I would have more happy if it was a larger, easier to use stein, but it will likely sit on a shelf anyway. And it's nice looking despite the size.

On the bright side, I did learn that a half liter German mug is called a Humpen. (I don't recall being taught that one by Herr Professor in my college German classes.)

Flying Dog HBC-291

After a fun but frustrating IDPA match Saturday, I looked to improve the day by watching a movie with my lovely wife and sipping on a strong beer. I knew I had a sample of Flying Dog Single Hop HBC-291 Imperial IPA in the fridge. Having had a number of the brewery's Single Hop beers in the past, I assumed it would be another mouth and mind numbing beverage — just the ticket for that Saturday evening. I hadn't even planned to spend time making notes for a review, until I took a sip. Then I grabbed a quick photo and paid more attention.

Single Hop NBC-291 pours a bright orange color with a similarly bright white head. Somewhat floral, the aroma has notes of citrus, tropical fruit and caramel. The flavor is mildly sweet but not syrupy; I expected more cloying syrup. The caramel sweetness is joined by mild citrus fruit, backed up by an earthy tone.

I was surprised by this beer. It was less jarring than previous offerings in the Single Hop series. Previous ales in the series checked in at a noticeable 10% ABV. At a comparatively mild 8% ABV, HBC-291 was a surprising, though not at all disappointing offering. When my glass was empty I was somewhat dismayed to not have another bottle standing by.

This bottle of tasty brew was an unsolicited review sample from the brewery. The drinking was done of my own free will.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

February Rivanna IDPA Match

For a day in February, Saturday morning was surprisingly warm and sunny. Seventy shooters took advantage of the warm weather to come out for the February IDPA match at Rivanna Rifle and Pistol club. The grounds were wet and exceptionally muddy, which called for some last-minute changes in the planned stages. Despite the adverse range conditions, the Match Director adapted and gave us a fun match.

All four courses of fire were "stand and shoot" stages. I've had a lot of range time recently, time which was spent standing and shooting, and have been quite pleased with my practice sessions. Unfortunately, that success didn't carry over to this month's competition.

The first stage we shot was the proverbial "zombie apocalypse" scenario. A hoard of cardbordians had been turned and required a single headshot each to neutralize. I've done a lot of head shot practice recently, so was disappointed to have needed several makeup shots to complete the course of fire. Even so, I left one target "alive", when I looked across the back row I saw a shadow from a loose paster and called it a hit.

Next up was a long-distance stage. Four targets out at 20 yards were fronted by two non-threats, and there were also two six inch steel plates joining the array. While waiting for my turn at the stage, I was actually looking forward to shooting it, although I noticed the non-threats already had a lot of pasters on them. While shooting, I felt like I was very aware of my sight picture, and even hit the steel plates within what I considered a reasonable number of tries. (That means I still had ammo left.) Alas, the first words from my squad mates was, "You went really fast." It didn't feel that way, but the hits on non-threats and Failure to Neutralize penalty proved they were right. Live and learn.

The next stage had four open targets, to be shot three hits each in tactical sequence followed by a head shot on each. It felt a lot like a USPSA classifier stage. I was pleased with my shooting on this one. The last stage started seated, with the unloaded gun in a lidded box and all magazines on a table. At the start we stood, retrieved the gun and loaded it. There were three pairs of targets at increasing distances. I did okay until the last target pair, when once I again I was told I didn't slow down for the furthest targets, and subsequently earned a missed.

At the end of it all, this was my poorest finish ever in an IDPA match, and I earned an excessive number of points down. In any event, it was still fun to shoot and visit with friends. And there were lessons to be learned and things to work on in upcoming practice sessions.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Flying Dog Tropical Bitch

Back in 2009, Flying Dog released Raging Bitch Belgian IPA to mark their 20th Anniversary. I enjoyed the beer then, and frequently since. Five years later, the brewery is celebrating 25 years with a take off on that popular beer, with Tropical Bitch Belgian-Style Ale. This anniversery beer is brewed with pineapple, mango and passion fruit.

Tropical Bitch pours a bright copper-orange color with a moderate off-white head. The aroma has notes of a tropical fruit mix, with pineapple coming through the strongest. I get a subtle hint of Belgian yeast mixed in as well. The flavor follows what is in the aroma. There's an interesting balance of tropical fruit, funky yeast and pine bitterness. I hesitate to use the term "fruity" as that may conjure up thoughts of sugary sweetness, which it is not. The mouthfeel is smooth and slightly creamy. The tropical fruit and bitterness combination lingers in the finish. 

I enjoyed the Tropical Bitch Belgian-Style Ale quite a bit. Flying Dog has come up with a unique beer with which to mark their 25 years of brewing. It's different, flavorful, has that Flying Dog attitude, but isn't too over the top. Brewed just once, Tropical Bitch is available in stores now.

This bottle of Raging Bitch was an unsolicited review sample from the brewery. The drinking was done of my own free will.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Ice Stacking

I've never heard of this phenomenon before. I recommend watching with sound too.

It's awesome to watch, but it doesn't make me like winter any better.

Thanks to Colleen for sharing. 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Good News For Coffee & Beer Drinkers

If the claims from a recent study are true, I won't be moderating my coffee addiction anytime soon. As reported by the New York Post (a renowned scientific journal)...
Drinking more coffee might help reduce the kind of liver damage that’s associated with overindulging in food and alcohol, a review of existing studies suggests.

Researchers analyzed data from nine previously published studies with a total of more than 430,000 participants and found that drinking two additional cups of coffee a day was linked to a 44 percent lower risk of developing liver cirrhosis.

While just two cups a day brought about a "significant" reduction in risk, the researchers concluded that the risk from liver cirrhosis declined 57 percent for three cups and a whopping 65 percent with four cups of coffee a day.

I wonder if drinking Coffee Stouts would be as effective. That's a study I'd like to take part in.

See "Drinking more coffee may reverse liver damage from booze" for more.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Five O'Clock Friday: A Lenten Sacrifice

An Irishman moves into a tiny hamlet in County Kerry, walks into the pub and promptly orders three beers.

The bartender raises his eyebrows, but serves the man three beers, which he drinks quietly at a table, alone.

An hour later, the man has finished the three beers and orders three more.

This happens yet again.

The next evening the man again orders and drinks three beers at a time, several times. Soon the entire town is whispering about the Man Who Orders Three Beers.

Finally, a week later, the bartender broaches the subject on behalf of the town. "I don't mean to pry, but folks around here are wondering why you always order three beers?"

'Tis odd, isn't it?" the man replies, "You see, I have two brothers, and one went to America, and the other to Australia. We promised each other that we would always order an extra two beers whenever we drank as a way of keeping up the family bond."

The bartender and the whole town was pleased with this answer, and soon the Man Who Orders Three Beers became a local celebrity and source of pride to the hamlet, even to the extent that out-of-towners would come to watch him drink.

Then, one day, the man comes in and orders only two beers. The bartender pours them with a heavy heart. This continues for the rest of the evening - he orders only two beers. The word flies around town. Prayers are offered for the soul of one of the brothers.

The next day, the bartender says to the man, "Folks around here, me first of all, want to offer condolences to you for the death of your brother. You know-the two beers and all..."

The man ponders this for a moment, then replies, "You'll be happy to hear that my two brothers are alive and well... It's just that I, myself, have decided to give up drinking for Lent."

Range Time Buffet

Most of the snow has finally melted, but unfortunately more frozen precipitation is predicted for early next week. The brief respite from the cold was motivation enough to hit the range and take advantage of the sunny day. I grabbed a few pistols, and a lot of ammo, and we headed out for a good time.

Our friend "Checkered Flag" was also visiting, but rather than the usual routine of drills and games we usually run to challenge ourselves, we all took turns shooting all of the guns and talking about their differences and (mostly) similarities. Shooting three different SIG Sauer guns in one outing only serves to remind me why I'm a fan. As I told CF as we were cleaning guns afterwards, "Not only do they shoot well, they just plain look good too."

It was a beautiful afternoon, and spending time on the range with Colleen and a friend added to the enjoyment. This at was my second shooting outing this week, with one more planned for the weekend. As a bonus to the fun afternoon, we returned home to find that a large order of ammo had been delivered! (Though I am not sure the Fedex driver felt it was so great.) An outstanding week so far, and it's not even the weekend yet! 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Devils Backbone Steal the Glass Night

Colleen and I returned to Capital Ale House Tuesday evening for a Devils Backbone Steal the Glass event. The event featured Devils Backbone Kabong Triple Imperial IPA. A few other Devils Backbone beers were also available; Black Rock Oatmeal Stout, Sonnet 54 Saison, Cranberry Gose, Vienna Lager, and Gold Leaf Lager. Colleen had the Stout while I ordered a pint of the Triple IPA.

Kabong is a strongly flavored beer but still has a nice balance of sweet malt and oily citrus hops. The flavor finished on the sweet side but otherwise it had a very clean finish for such a rich flavor profile. Surprisingly, I was able to detect very little aroma from the beer. This strong beer checks in at 11.1% ABV, so slow sipping was the order of the evening as I enjoyed a fish & chips platter.

Even though we got seated at the bar just 20 minutes after the 6:00PM start of the Steal the Glass event, my Devils Backbone beer came out in an O’Conner Brewing pint glass, and Colleen’s Stout in an Adventure Brewing glass. Our server informed us they were already out of the Devils Backbone glassware. Apparently a large “private party” downstairs claimed all the glasses. Although that would save us from paying the premium price to “steal” a glass, it was disappointing as we did like the glass being offered. (Fortunately our server did manage to find us a couple of glasses to take later in the evening.)

Making do

I would have like to tried the Devils Backbone Gose as well, but after the high ABV Kabong, I opted for just the one beer; it was a “school night” after all.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Tuesday at the Range

My planned Monday range outing turned into a Tuesday range outing thanks to the winter storm that started off the week. In typical Virginia fashion, the day after we had snow, the temperature rose into the 50’s the next afternoon. Despite the sun outside, when I got to the indoor range folks leaving were complaining about the indoor temperature and their cold hands. (Suck it up, it’s not always going to be a sunny day.)

Last week I came across this 50-round drill from Julie Golob. It’s shot from low ready which works for the indoor range. In addition, shooting rapidly, but safely, is allowed here in a welcome switch from the outdoor range rules. I set up an IDPA practice target at 7 yards and ran the drill strings. Overall it was a good run; I think I'll store that one away to run again.

Finishing the 50-round exercise, I put the target at 10 yards. I ran through most of my second box of ammo putting one or two hits to the body, followed by one to the head zone, each string from low ready. The purpose was simply to work on that quick transition between the two zones. The lesson learned here was that I tended to shoot low on the followup head shots. I’ll do that drill more in the future as well.

More quickly than I would have liked I had used up my ammo; shooting these drills takes very little time. Knowing how much I enjoy shooting, and how quickly shooting indoors burns ammo, I purposefully put only two boxes of ammo in my bag when I packed the night before. I know that if I bring it I’ll shoot it, so that’s my attempt at self-discipline. (It is Lent after all.) The short and fun range session set me up to handle the rest of the afternoon behind a computer screen.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Adventure Brewing "South"

The Blue & Gray brewpub reopened this weekend after some renovation and under new ownership. The brewery is under transformation into a new home for Adventure Brewing. The new owners are still getting things in place at the new location, but eventually their main beer production will take place at this new location, while the original location in Stafford will remain open and produce small batch and experimental beers.

Colleen and I stopped by on Saturday to check out the progress, and new pub menu. The food menu is simplified, and in a welcome change, features what I call "pub grub." There are seven appetizers, some salads, a burger selection, and a few other sandwiches. One thing we often lament at our favorite watering holes and is the absence of simple foods to enjoy with our beers, so were happy to see this new menu. We ordered only a plate of "Jumbo Nachos Grande" this visit.

Juxtaposition of the Old and the New.
During this transitional period, the beers being offered are the Blue & Gray beers. Soon new production will be ramped up and the Adventure beers will flow at the new location. They will continue to produce the classic Blue & Gray favorites as well. During this visit I enjoyed a tasty Red IPA while Colleen sipped a Fred Red Ale.

There was a good sized crowd visiting the pub on a Saturday afternoon. Colleen and I enjoyed our visit very much. The original Adventure Brewing location is a bit far away for us to visit as frequently as we'd like, however we regularly visit the pubs in downtown Fredericksburg. Adventure Brewing "South" is located just a slight detour off our usual route, so I know we'll be stopping in regularly.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Day the Constitution Died

If obama gets to pick a third justice, the next sound we hear will be the sound from the shredding of the Constitution.

Requiescat in pace Justice Scalia.

"Justice Antonin Scalia was a man of God, a patriot, and an unwavering defender of the written Constitution and the Rule of Law."

Friday, February 12, 2016

Five O'Clock Friday: First Friday of Lent

John Smith was the only Protestant to move into a large Catholic neighborhood. On the first Friday of Lent, John was outside grilling a big juicy steak on his grill.

Meanwhile, all of his neighbors were eating cold tuna fish for supper. This went on each Friday of Lent. On the last Friday of Lent, the neighborhood men got together and decided that something had to be done about John; he was tempting them to eat meat each Friday of Lent, and they couldn't take it anymore.

They decided to try and convert John to be a Catholic. They went over and talked to him and were so happy that he decided to join all of his neighbors and become a Catholic. They took him to church, and the priest sprinkled some water over him, and said, "You were born a Baptist, you were raised a Baptist, and now you are a Catholic."

The men were so relieved, now their biggest Lenten temptation was resolved.

The next year's Lenten season rolled around. The first Friday of Lent came, and just at supper time, when the neighbor were sitting down to their tuna fish dinner, there came the wafting smell of steak cooking on a grill.

The neighborhood men could not believe their noses! What was going on? They called each other up and decided to meet over in John's yard to see if he had forgotten it was the first Friday of Lent.

The group arrived just in time to see John standing over his grill with a small pitcher of water. He was sprinkling some water over his steak on the grill, saying, "You were born a cow, you were raised a cow, and now you are a fish."

Massad Ayoob: Armed Citizen’s Rules of Engagement

It's been a few days since we had the privilege to attend Massad Ayoob's Armed Citizen’s Rules of Engagement course, and I'm still absorbing of the depth of information that was put forth. The class was hosted by John Murphy of FPF Training. The twenty hours of instruction over two days was a firehose of information that led to 31 pages of handwritten notes, which I am still reviewing. Each time I look at my notes or discuss the class with Colleen, another nugget from the class comes back to mind. 

Massad (Mas) Ayoob is a renowned author and firearms instructor whose experience is sought out by civilians as well as those in the law enforcement and legal professions. He is frequently called as an expert witness in trials involving the legal use of defensive force. His books are staples in many personal libraries, including my own. I was very excited for the opportunity to learn from him in-person.

I am not going to go into details of what was covered. Much of the material is proprietary and reserved for class attendees only. The subjects were varied and relevant to surviving before, during, and after an armed defensive encounter. Many of the discussions were eye-opening, and backed by years of experience and research into real shootings and real court cases. All topics covered were meant to prepare the student, and his legal team, to avoid missteps in building an affirmative defense after being involved in a self-defense shooting. Mas went into great detail to show us how society interprets these events, and the many misconceptions held by jurors and district attorneys alike. Despite the seriousness of the material, the lectures were interesting and the class remained engaged throughout the long days. Mas keeps it interesting with real world examples and humor. (He is a walking encyclopedia of case law and bad jokes.)

Over the years, I’ve taken nearly as much training related to the legal issues around self defense as I have actual shooting instruction. I consider myself to be well-versed in the moral, social and legal considerations of self defense. Because of that awareness, like most people who have chosen the armed lifestyle, I have no desire to ever be involved in a defensive use of force. In fact, if I ever have to even unholster my gun, I would consider it a very bad day. I also don’t want to ever need my car’s seat belt, or pull the pin on my home fire extinguisher, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have them available in the extremely unlikely event they are needed. (This is contrary to how the uneducated public percieves those of us who take responsibility for our safety.) I know that using a firearm in justified defense of myself or my family would most likely lead to a lifetime of personal and legal issues. And frankly, that is a very scary reality. (The old cliché “at least you survived” is small comfort.)

After taking the Armed Citizen’s Rules of Engagement course, I feel I am much better prepared for those issues, should they ever arrive. I have an enhanced, practical understanding of what to expect, and feel well-armed with knowledge that will help me to navigate the aftermath. And I still have no desire to ever need to put that knowledge to use.

There is little doubt in my mind that armed citizens owe a debt of gratitude to Massad Ayoob for the work he has done over the years, whether they realize it or not. I know for a fact there are many innocent people who have had to defend themselves against rigorous (and often politically motivated) persecution, who are free today because of his expert testimony

I am a firm believer in "continuing education" for anyone who chooses to carry a gun. Carrying, or even owning a gun, without taking steps to become proficient in it use, and knowledgeable in the legal and ethical issue related to its use is irresponsible. Continuing education is a must. If you have to opportunity to take Armed Citizen’s Rules of Engagement or any training from Masaad Ayoob, I strongly encourage you to do so. It will be a worthwhile investment of time and money. I am hoping that in the next year or two I can avail myself of the live fire portion of this class as well.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Three Notch'd The Ghost of the 43rd

When we picked up food for our in-room dinner last weekend, we stopped in the local beer store for a beverage accompaniment. I was in the mood for a nice hoppy, but low ABV Pale Ale with which to relax after the long day. The store cooler housing the chilled beer had a very limited selection. One of the few craft selections that seemed to meet my criteria was Three Notch'd The Ghost of the 43rd. It was a beer I hadn't had previously so I took a chance on a six pack of cans.

The Ghost of the 43rd is an American Pale Ale that checks in at a moderate 5.1% ABV. My first tasting of the beer was straight from the can. Despite the less than optimal serving method, I enjoyed the crisp citrus hop bite. Later from a glass, I was able to fully appreciate the appearance, aroma and flavor. This Pale Ale pours a bright golden yellow with a frothy white head. The aroma is bready malt with citrus and fruit notes. The flavor is slightly bitter, balanced with tropical citrus hops. There's a hint of vinous grape notes in there too. The finish is crisp and somewhat dry.

I was quite pleased with the serendipitous purchase. The Ghost of the 43rd is a refreshing beer with a pleasantly balanced citrus and bitter flavor profile. It hit the spot after that long day in class, and was even better when enjoyed from a glass, relaxing at home.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Blessed José Sánchez del Río

Update: On January 21, 2016 Pope Francis approved a miracle attributed to Blessed José Sánchez del Río allowing for his canonization to take place sometime within the year.

[Originally published February 10, 2013]

Today, February 10, is the anniversary of the martyrdom of Blessed José Sánchez del Río. On this date in 1928, this 14 year old boy was killed for refusing to renounce his Catholic faith during the Cristero War. The story of this period of Catholic persecution led by Mexican President Calles was told in the movie "For Greater Glory".

After José was captured by government forces, he was forced to witness the torture and execution of fellow Catholics, yet he never wavered in his resolve. He was himself was tortured and urged to shout "Death to Christ the King" with the promise his suffering would be over. On the day of his torturous execution, the soldiers cut the soles of his feet and he was made to walk barefooted to the grave they had dug for him. He was repeatedly stabbed with bayonets as he made his way to the place of his martyrdom.

Even after he had been shot he continued to cry out "Viva Cristo Rey!" ("Long live Christ the King!") The commander of the soldiers was so furious that he was able to resist the government barbarism, he finally shot the boy in the head. As he died he is said to have drawn a cross on the ground with his own blood. Blessed José Sánchez del Río was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on November 20, 2005.

During the Cristeros War many Catholics were killed by the Mexican government for their faith. This tragic part of recent history is pointedly ignored by the history books in both the United States and Mexico. It is a story that needs to be told and learned by all free people. The people of the United States shared in the tragedy, as our own government supplied both arms and air support for the Federales in their battles with the Catholic faithful.

As the attacks on the Church increase in the United States, with the aggression led by our own government, we would do well to remember the resolve of this strong young man, and pray that we too will remain faithful through whatever trials await us.

Blessed José Sánchez del Río, Pray For Us!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Monday at the Range

Until the days start getting longer, shooting indoors is better than not, so Monday I headed back to the indoor range. After spending two days sitting in a classroom learning about guns and self defense, it was fun to go out and actually shoot, even if only a little.

It's a bit of rush, but I can get to the range, shoot 100 rounds, and be back in the office in about hour. And folks there think I just took a rare lunch break. For this week's outing I had packed two firearms. Since neither had night sights, I shot with the overhead bench light turned off just to simulate some low light shooting. As a bonus, I even had the place to myself.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Still Life: Hotel Room Dinner

We attended an amazing self defense-related class this weekend (more on that soon) which meant spending 10 hours a day in a classroom. After the long day, dinner out seemed like to much effort so we opted to eat in.

A carry out sub and can of beer never tasted so good. The second can tasted even better.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Snow? Enough Already!

I walked out to get the paper this morning, saw snowflakes and thought I was seeing things. Alas, WeatherBug confirmed my vision.

I don't think it will amount to anything, but still, I'm so very ready for Spring.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

It's a Game of Inches

There's been a lot of discussion the past few days regarding the recent "compromise" on gun rights in Virginia. While nothing has yet been signed, and legislation is still in the works, the details are starting to emerge. While most gun owners are seeing good in this, some gun rights activists are upset at the notion of ANY compromise. Unfortunately that attitude could also mean no progress. It's also become quite apparent that the anti-rights contingent on the left is absolutely livid. (That in itself gives me pleasure and is a positive sign.)

If the governor keeps his word, Virginia will honor concealed carry permits from ALL states. This is an improvement over what we had before the Attorney General and State Police Supervisor plotted to rescind reciprocity agreements with 25 states. If all the legislation involved moves forward, and if McAuliffe signs it, Virginia permits could probably possibly be accepted in most other states which allow concealed carry. It will likely take some time before those additional reciprocity agreements are hashed out across the country.  (I'm keeping my Utah permit nonetheless.)

During his press conference last Friday, Governor McAuliffe spent a lot of time hyping the closing of the so-called "gun show loophole" and fighting domestic violence. Some 2nd Amendment rights advocates have argued that forcing these "fixes" was the intent all along of McAuliffe and Herring. If that's the case, the governor is an extremely poor negotiator, or just not very smart. Or both. The "fix" for the "loophole" is to require the State Police to be on hand at all gun shows to perform VOLUNTARY background checks for sellers who want to do them before selling a gun. Private sellers have ALWAYS had the option to do that. The proposed regulation regarding Permanent Protective Orders simply models law that already exists under federal law.

I happen to believe that McAuliffe was never fully supportive of Herring's action, even if he agreed on principle. This week the Governor even admitted "But we have no record of anyone in the last 25 years being injured or hurt with (sic) someone who came into our state with a concealed weapon." Once he saw the fallout from his Attorney General's decree, he became downright scared. He has come to recognize just how strong the pro-rights support is in the legislature, and learned that gun rights is not a strict Republican/Democrat issue. "Pro-gun" bills have been moving forward, and some possibly with veto-proof majorities. As a friend termed it, McAuliffe made a "tactical retreat." It's telling that while McAuliffe was touting this "historic" compromise, while heaping praise on Mark Herring for helping to initiate it, the Attorney General was conspicuously absent from the stage. A planned strategy or a mistake, the end result is the same — the leftists took another beating and freedom won. Although the politicians are apparently not allowed to admit it.

My impression is there is national trend towards the restoration of 2nd Amendment rights, despite the occasional setbacks. There are losses at times, but net change seems to be happening for the good. Those fighting for gun rights with an "all or nothing" attitude will be disappointed and, I think, may even hurt the fight. I strongly believe we should ask permission of NO person, or state, to exercise a right and to provide for the defense of our families and ourselves in the best means possible. Unfortunately the rules imposed on us by the power-hungry elite have reduced our expression of certain rights. We must fight continually to have the recognition (not granting) of those rights restored. It seems, for now, patriots in Virginia are making steps in the right direction.

Great Minds Think Alike

Yesterday afternoon I made an spur of the moment run out to the local beer store to check if my favorite late winter release, Tröegs Nugget Nectar was in stock. A successful beer run made, I returned to my desk and within a few minutes received a text message from Colleen, who happened to be out running errands at the same time.

That's Hardywood Sidamo Coffee Stout and Blue Mountain Dark Hollow Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout in her cart. Looks like we both had the same idea! We'll have plenty of good beer to enjoy this week.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Virginia Executive Office Debate

Attorney General Mark Herring (December 22, 2015): "Strong, consistent enforcement of Virginia's laws and safety standards can prevent disqualified people who may be dangerous or irresponsible from utilizing a concealed handgun permit, and it's what the law requires."

Governor Terry McAullife (February 1, 2016): "I appreciate the work the attorney general did on this. But we have no record of anyone in the last 25 years being injured or hurt with (sic) someone who came into our state with a concealed weapon."

Ground Hog Day Trump

Déjà vu, but not.

I trust him about as much as I trust a rodent to predict the weather.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Fixing Monday: Range Trip

Despite the near 70° temperatures today, the outdoor range remains closed. Since I've been itching to get in some trigger time, I had to break down and make a lunch time visit to a local indoor range. I'm typically weary of the indoor facility due to not being able to see what the other folks are doing. Fortunately there were only two other lanes in use, and both appeared to be occupied by experienced shooters giving lessons to new shooters. I was able to concentrate on enjoying the distraction of shooting.

Looking through my shooting journal, I realized it had been almost a year to the day since I last visited this range. This would be the first time shooting indoors since I put the fiber front sight on the gun. It was also the first time shooting indoors since I stopped wearing the Rx shooting glasses. Both of these changes could have an effect on shooting in the low light conditions. Despite the target itself being blurry, I was pretty happy with how I shot. I was drifting to the left a bit, but that's not an unusual issue, otherwise the groups were passable. (More dry fire would probably help with that.)

After firing off 100 rounds, in a very short time, it was back to work. The quick lunch time run was a bonus to what was otherwise just another Monday. Perhaps I should make this a regular thing — I hardly ever leave my desk for lunch so any excursion would be a treat.

Feast of St. Brigid of Ireland

Today is the Feast Day of St. Brigid of Ireland, one of our family's favorite Saints. The quote below has long been attributed to St. Brigid.
"I'd Like A Great Lake Of Beer For The King Of Kings. I Would Like To Be Watching Heaven's Family Drinking It Through All Eternity."
Our family has long had an affection for this great Saint. During our trip to Ireland a few years ago, I came to realize just how popular she is in that country, second only to St. Patrick it seems. Her legendary association with miracles involving beer often overshadows her deeds of charity and compassion.

Beyond her prayer for a "great lake of beer" this revered Saint had other interesting connections with beer. According to tradition, Brigid was working in a leper colony when they ran out of beer. Since beer was an important source of safe liquid refreshment and nourishment, this was indeed a serious issue. Brigid is said to have changed her bath water into beer to nourish the lepers and visiting clerics. In another miracle attributed to St. Brigid, she provided beer to 18 churches for an entire Easter season, all from a single barrel of beer in her convent.

St. Brigid Statue, Knock Shrine, County Mayo, Ireland

St. Brigid, ora pro nobis! And cheers!

BadWolf AK-47 Kölsch

Sunday afternoon is one of our favorite times to head out for a relaxing late lunch, and a good beer or two. This past Sunday, as I perused the beer menu at Sedona Taphouse, a listing for BadWolf Brewing AK-47 caught my eye, for obvious reasons. It was listed in the "Pale Ale" section of the menu, which made it even more interesting to me.

When my beer arrived, my first comment to Colleen was noting how bright and clear the beer was. Taking a sip I tasted a nice balance of citrus and fruit hops, along with a crisp, bready malt base. It seemed a nicely done, mild Pale Ale. 

As I did my beer-geek thing and checked into Untappd I saw the beer was listed as a Kölsch. "Interesting," I thought, "that explains the notable clarity of the beer." Arriving home I checked online and found BadWolf's description of the beer,
Our American bastardization of the beloved Kolsch style is brewed with a traditional grain bill and Kolsch yeast and that’s where the similarities end. Our love for hops drove us to add copious amounts of Simcoe for an American hop bite. This Ameri-Kolsch clocks in at a formidable (by Kolsch standards) 47 IBUs, is light refreshing and tastes like freedom!
Well done BadWolf! You've taken the clarity and crispness of a Kölsch and added a pleasing citrus hop twist. AK-47 is a nice, refreshing, crisp, and flavorful beer, one that went quite well with a light, Sunday afternoon lunch.