Saturday, June 30, 2012

Derecho 2012

From WikipediaA derecho (Spanish: derecho "right", pronounced [de̞ˈɾe̞tʃo̞][1]), is a widespread and long-lived, violent convectively induced straight-line windstorm that is associated with a fast-moving band of severe thunderstorms in the form of a squall line usually taking the form of a bow echo. Derechos blow in the direction of movement of their associated storms, similar to a gust front, except that the wind is sustained and generally increases in strength behind the "gust" front. A warm weather phenomenon, derechos occur mostly in summer, especially June and July in the Northern Hemisphere. They can occur at any time of the year and occur as frequently at night as in the daylight hours.

What was up there...
is now down here.

Simply put, tornado-force winds moving through in a straight line. More of the same weather is possible later today. Since I was outside all morning helping to set up for the Fredericksburg USPSA match tomorrow, I'm much too tired for chainsaw wrestling now. Cleanup will wait until a cool morning. I need some reserves left for tomorrow! Frankly, it's not going anywhere and the dog is loving the new, endless supply of sticks.

We were lucky, and for that I am thankful. Not so others.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Gates of Hell

 And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. --Matthew 16:18

So, the Supreme Court has ruled. The highest court in America has confirmed that we will be subject to the largest (not a) tax increase in American history. But is the fight over? Hardly. The fight against Obamacare, Obamatax, and the accompanying HHS Mandate, was merely one battle in a much larger and longer war. The secular humanists, the leftists, the radical atheists, all are conspiring with the current administration to restrict religious liberty. Be assured they will not rest after this one battle. President Obama, and his supporters, the whole socialist lot of them, will not stop with attacking just one of your liberties.

The Church and the friends of liberty and freedom must, and will, continue to fight against this and other government attempts to control, or destroy, religion and freedom in these United States.

For 2,000 years, the Church has outlived every empire that has tried to destroy it. You might want to think this through Mr. President.

QOTD: Tyranny

"You may call tyranny a mandate or you may call it a tax, but it still is tyranny and invites the same response." --Mike Vanderboegh

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Cavalier IDPA Match

A few years ago, when I first was getting interested in competitive shooting, the first "local" event I found out about was the monthly IDPA match at the Cavalier Rifle and Pistol Club in Montpelier, VA. But, for whatever reason, I never made it to one of the matches there. This past Sunday, I had no other commitments, and the rest of my family was away for the week serving the less fortunate at a Diocesan Work Camp. It was a good time to finally check out this match.

I arrived early as the three stages for the match were still being set up. Once shooting began I hung back for a bit to watch and refresh my memory on the IDPA rules. After shooting mostly USPSA events, and only a few IDPA matches, it would be easy to mess up. In fact, a friend I've shot with at USPA matches saw me on the last stage and expressed surprise I was there, and then promptly asked "How many procedurals have you earned so far?" (I had none.)

All stages required 18 rounds, three hits each on six targets. The first stage began with the shooter with hands on the front of an open-hood jeep. The first two targets were engaged in tactical sequence while moving backwards. The final four targets were taken from behind cover at various points around the vehicle. I ended up just two points down on the stage.

Stage 2 required at least one of the three shots on each target be a head shot. All the shooting was done around or between stacked barrels. Two of the targets were low to the ground and had only the head area visible. I shot the stage clean for zero points down.

On the final stage, the shooting began by engaging two targets from behind cover, then three targets that were to be engaged while on the move across the bay. Given the 10 round per mag limit, that meant a reload before the three open targets were fully engaged. In IDPA no reloads can be initiated except from behind cover. This meant moving to a second set of barrels, reloading, and finishing up from behind cover. This is where a USPSA shooter might mess up and do a reload in the move, while in the open. In fact, it was right before this stage that the USPSA friend all but predicted I'd earn a procedural. But, no procedurals and just two points down on the stage.

I enjoyed this match very much. I was also pleased with my finish of 8th out of 21 in my division, and with just 4 points down total. The folks I met at Cavalier were extremely friendly and helpful. I overhead many new shooters being offered detailed and constructive comments for improvement, and I tried to make a point to listen in! I think I'll add this monthly match to my calendar and try to get down as often as possible. It's actually a fairly easy drive from Fredericksburg, and, once you get off I-95, you find yourself cruising down some winding country roads; not an unpleasant Sunday drive.

On the way home I stopped at a convenience store and picked up a 32 ounce sugary drink for the drive home. Hey Mayor Bloomberg, I spent the morning with people shooting guns AND I had a large size cola. So there, you pompous nanny-state twit!

Hey Bloomy!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

"Wild Things" and Assassination

Here's an excerpt from a 2010 interview that "Wild Things" author Maurice Sendak did with Gary Groth of The Comic Journal.
SENDAK: Bush was president, I thought, “Be brave. Tie a bomb to your shirt. Insist on going to the White House. And I wanna have a big hug with the vice president, definitely. And his wife, and the president, and his wife, and anybody else that can fit into the love hug.” 
GROTH: A group hug. 
SENDAK: And then we’ll blow ourselves up, and I’d be a hero. [Groth laughs.] To hell with the kiddie books. He killed Bush. He killed the vice president. Oh my God. 
GROTH: I would have been willing to forgo this interview. [Sendak laughs.] 
SENDAK: You would have forgotten about it. It would have been a very brave and wonderful thing. But I didn’t do it; I didn’t do it.
I am happy that we never purchased a single one of these books when our son was growing up.

The current occupier of the White House reads "Where The Wild Things Are" at the 2009 White House Easter Egg Roll.

Eating the dog? No wonder he's a fan of the book!

A Small Bit of Dementia

I headed over to Lee's Retreat at the Blue & Gray Brewery for dinner this weekend. While waiting for my meal I enjoyed a half-pint of Blue & Gray Minor Dementia Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout. Apparently a beer this big needs a big name.

I reviewed this stout a couple of years ago, and it's just as good as I remember. The aroma is rich with espresso and bourbon. Dark fruit, molasses, espresso, and oak bourbon flavors follow in the mouth. There's a pleasing alcohol warmth present as well. The beer does check in at 13% ABV so that's to be expected, but it is not harsh or overbearing at all.

Also sitting at the bar that evening was one of the brewers who's worked with Blue & Gray over the years and who had a hand in the creation of Minor Dementia. I told him I still had a bottle from the original release, to which he replied it might be the only one! Someday for a special occasion, I'll have to open that up.

My Cheddar & Jalapeño burger arrived and I switched to Falmouth Pale Ale to enjoy with, and after, my meal. I always appreciate a good burger, and the jalapeño burger here is praise-worthy. So often I am disappointed by "jalapeño burgers" with limpid, mild peppers. Not so the ones at Lee's Retreat; nothing wimpy here.

I was also treated to a sample of the brewery's Belgian Tripel. Sadly, between the Minor Dementia Stout and the jalapeños, I couldn't give this beer a fair evaluation. (Okay, if you insist, I'll go back and do better research.)

This visit to Lee's Retreat was extra enjoyable as I was also drinking to support a great cause. It's been a few months since I was able to get over to my favorite brewpub for a meal and good beer. Hopefully, it won't be quite so long until my next visit.

Monday, June 25, 2012

When Agenda Kills

Nobody died when Nixon lied.

H/T The Smallest Majority

Better Weather Prognostication

So, you're at the range, and see some clouds off in the distance. Do you keep shooting? How much time do you have? How long will the rain last? Here's an interesting app for your iPhone (iPad and Android too) which can help with your outdoor activity planning. Dark Sky shows the precipitation forecast for the next hour. And it does so with amazing accuracy.

How does it work? You can read about the science behind that app at "How Dark Sky Works", but the creators put it simply,
We’ve found that precipitation bands are even more coherent and behave approximately linearly over the course of minutes, and in many cases up to an hour or more. So how do we go about quantifying this linear motion? Math, that’s how!
The developers are programmers and mathematicians, not meteorologists. Weather data from NOAA is cleaned up and the short term precipitation forecast is extracted and then displayed in a clean and concise manner as shown in the screenshot at the right. The yellow band at the top shows expected precipitation amounts and it will move to indicate the confidence given to the predictions. There's also a simple radar display that allows you to scroll forward to see the expected short term movement.

This isn't a full-fledged weather app. It has one purpose; to forecast short term precipitation. After a few days of testing Dark Sky, I found it quite accurate. One evening I even spent some time outside watching the clouds roll in and waiting for the rain to start. Dark Sky seemed to be accurate for my location to within minutes.

Dark Sky for the iPhone is available in the iTunes Store for $3.99.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Threat To America

Why the HHS mandate is a threat to all Americans.

This is not an attack only on Catholics. The Obama administration's actions are truly a "threat to the idea of the United States of America." The sooner the country wakes up to that fact, the less cleanup we will have to do to recover our freedoms.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Ugly Pug Black Lager

A typical Virginia summer storm crept up Friday afternoon, just as we were preparing to head out for some shooting fun. No matter, I'm a man of many interests, so we changed gears and opted for beer instead. I decided to crack out another of the Texas beers sent recently by my friend 45er, this time Rahr & Sons Ugly Pug Black Lager.

Ugly Pug Lager exhibits a nearly opaque dark brown color, letting some reddish light through at the edges. A thick mocha head tops the pour. The aroma is bread and roasted coffee with a hint of dark chocolate. I was pleased that the flavor which followed was what I hope for. The initial impression is toasted malt and mildy bitter dark coffee. Thrown in there is some pleasing nuttiness and a hint of smoke. The favors linger with the addition of some sweetness at the end.

So often, folks will say they don't like "dark beers," citing bitterness or "heaviness" as the reason. A black lager, or Schwarzbier, is a good "dark beer" style that can help change that color-based, and erroneous, impression. Rahr & Sons' interpretation is well done. It's refreshing, even on a hot day, and at just 4.5% ABV, I certainly could have enjoyed another had it been available.

Needless to say I'm enjoying exploring the tastes of Texas thanks to the recent beer trade. I still have a couple more to try out. Soon.

More Car Accessorizing

Now that you are done with the back of the vehicle, it's time to turn your attention to the interior.

Thanks to a Facebook friend Damon for sending that along.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

El Dorado Single Hop IPA

Here's another beer in the "Single Hop" series from Flying Dog Brewery. I received this sample of Single Hop Imperial IPA with El Dorado from the brewery a few weeks ago but promptly forgot about it. I saw it recently when digging throughout the beer fridge and broke it out. If the folks at Flying Dog went through the trouble of shipping the sample to me, I should do them the courtesy of drinking it. (I know, it's a sacrifice, but really, hold your sympathy.)

I made my usual "hard pour" into a hop-embossed cervoise glass and wound up with a thick head of foam. The head dropped fairly rapidly leaving a thin, but persistent layer. The aroma is fruity with a hint of citrus. The flavor is bitter citrus, one might say even harsh. Whether that's a good thing or not depends on your taste preferences. Being a fan of bold flavors, I found it enjoyable, but admittedly, I would not spend the evening consuming multiple pints. (And the beer checks in at 10% ABV too.) There's a moderate sweetness that comes through at the end, which lingers stickily on the palate.

Flying Dog Single Hop Imperial IPA with El Dorado hops is definitely a hop-head's beer. I enjoyed my glass on the first day of Summer with the temperature around 97°. A bold beer for a bold day!

Previous Single Hop Series reviews here and here.

Flying Dog sent me an unsolicited bottle of this beer. It is through my own free will that I consumed and reviewed it. No compensation was received for this review.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Beer By The Box

Is this the new growler? The Crafty Carton is a "take out" container that holds 32 ounces of draft beer. The idea is to allow pub patrons to take away two pints of their favorite beer to enjoy at home. From the Crafty Carton website:
The 2-Pint Crafty Carton™ is a revolutionary carton changing the bar industry. Imagine your regulars are IN LOVE with the fabulous new wheat beer and the seasonal local ale is selling fast. But, many of your regulars leave early to avoid driving under the influence. Sound familiar? 
With the new Crafty Carton™ disposable container, your bar patrons can now enjoy two pints of their favorite draft brew at home. It’s simple, easy to use and environmentally safe. The new Crafty Carton™ increases bar sales, provides additional advertising and increases your overall bottom line.
I suspect there are a whole host of state-specific laws to review. Is this considered an open container? Personally, I'd be willing to give them a try at my favorite local brewpubs. Growlers have limited lifespans once opened, and I often decide against growler purchases if I know that some of the beer may go flat before I finish. But two pints of that special beer would be no problem.

Have you seen these "in the wild?" Any pubs offering them?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Enjoy Good Beer. Save Lives.

We know that drinking good beer can be good for your health. Now, this week you can enjoy good beer and help save the lives of others too. Blue & Gray Brewing Company has teamed up with Mary's Shelter in a unique fund raising effort. A portion of your tab at Lee's Retreat brewpub will be donated to help support women facing crises pregnancies.

Mary’s Shelter offers independent residential care to pregnant women over the age of eighteen who, for any reason, lack the moral, financial and/or spiritual resources to provide for themselves and their babies. Learn more about their important mission here.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day Finish

I didn't get to the range as I had hoped, as I chose the longer nap option in my plan. The waning hours of daylight were spent reading on the deck with Colleen and enjoying a Great Lakes Commodore Perry IPA

But the day wasn't over. There was yet another treat planned by my lovely wife.

Uff da! I might have to dust off the treadmill this week.

Father's Day Plans

What is ahead on this day for Dads?

For starters, I'm up at 5:30AM to head over to the church to help set up for the Father's Day pancake breakfast — being served after the morning Masses, and served by Fathers themselves. Our event is a fundraiser for charity in addition to a time for parish families to get together for some socializing. It will be a busy morning but the coffee will be strong and the company enjoyable.

After Mass I'll sit down and enjoy the meal with my family too. After that respite, it will be back to helping out with the breakfast duties.

Once that event is finished, this dad will probably take a mid-afternoon nap, a rare treat indeed. Maybe later today I'll be able to squeeze in a quick trip to the range. It would be fun to put a few rounds downrange. Or maybe I'll just take a longer nap.

Later in the evening I expect to be attending to lamb chops on the grill and relaxing with a good beer or two.

Yea, that all sounds good.

I hope your plans for the day include just as much fun.

Happy Father's Day to my own Dad, and to all you Dads out there!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Independence Pale Ale

I finally had the opportunity to enjoy another one of the beers 45er sent me last month. Life seems to be conspiring to keep me busy, er, I mean keep me from getting bored, so I haven't had the chance to sit down and write about a new beer for many weeks. But this evening my son is locked in virtual combat with some friends online, and Colleen is off to her women's study group, so it's just me, a good book, and a beer. One can hardly do better at the end of the work week!

Independence Pale Ale appears a bright marmalade-orange color. I poured the beer from the bottle very briskly to create a thick off white head, which quickly dropped to thin layer, but left plenty of lacing behind. There's a moderately strong aroma of piney hops with a bit of sweet malt. The flavor is a blend of pine resin and grapefruit rind, with a tiny sweetness to balance things out; all exactly what I look for in a pale ale. The bitterness lingers in the finish, as does a bit of hoppy stickiness.

It seems to me that this pale ale from the Austin, TX brewery has just a slightly bolder profile, is a little more robust, than many pale ales. Perhaps that Texas attitude is coming through. It's quite an enjoyable beer, and the bottle sports a really cool label too!

Thanks again to 45er for sending this one along. There's also an IPA from Independence Brewing waiting to be tried as well. I'm looking forward to that one next.

Bacon Sundae!

Now, this is dessert! This week Burger King released it's new dessert. It's concocted with vanilla soft serve, fudge, caramel, bacon crumbles, and a piece of bacon.

Photograph: Noel Barnhurst, AP
This gastronomic delight weighs in at 510 calories, 18 grams of fat and 61 grams of sugar. Yea, I might just go get one, but I think a day of fasting to prepare might be in order.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Lure of the Kindle

Earlier this year I put the Kindle app on my iPhone, mostly out of curiosity. I've long said I prefer "real" books to "electronic." I soon found myself frequently taking advantage of unexpected moments of downtime to get in some reading — sitting in the doctor's office, waiting in the car when picking up my son from school, stuck in a hotel, etc. I've written about this new-to-me convenience previously. Eventually, I put the Kindle application on my laptop. Now I could read on a larger screen when I was at home. The downside, the application is on my laptop. I couldn't read without being distracted by email, RSS alerts, reading blogs, etc.

So an actual Kindle became the temptation. After years of "smart phone" use, a simple single-function device with a basic grayscale screen seemed like a throwback. But, at it's core, a book is also a simple single-function device with a basic grayscale screen. Now, thanks to my family and an early Father's Day gift, I have a Kindle Touch added to my electronic device menagerie. I like it! I can tell I'll use it frequently at home, and will carry it with me when I know I'll have down time. I'll still use the iPhone for reading during unexpected free time, and even my laptop for breaks at my desk.

The Kindle versions of books generally cost less than printed versions, and are certainly more convenient to carry around. It's great to have numerous selections on hand from which to choose, depending on my reading mood. There are a lot of classic works available for free download. I've also found many Church-related books, especially early writings, which are available for free, or at a low price. Of course, I'll probably reinvest in Kindle versions of a few books that I reread frequently. And a protective cover, and a power adaptor... (Seriously Amazon? A charger is not included?)

I wonder why it took me so long to come around.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Gabriel Possenti Shooters Range Day

A group of Catholic shooting enthusiasts spent an afternoon at the range recently. A good time was had by all!

Read about the fun at over at the Gabriel Possenti Shooters blog.

Hiding Beer

My beer fridge is typically kept in a full state, even if the beer does occasionally share space with other food stuffs. (Amazingly, I do occasionally find myself staring at the full fridge and not seeing something I want to drink.) Friends who visit know they are welcome to help themselves to whatever is in the fridge. Fortunately, nothing really special has ever ben consumed inadvertently, though I have worried about that in the past.

I've recently learned of the "camouflager" for hiding those special bottles from casual browsers. Check out this video.

Although a simple sign might be just as effective.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Combat Focus Shooting App

One of the drills we often do at the range is to put up targets with colored or numbered sections and have one person call out a random target and everyone will draw and shoot that target. It's a great way to practice, but hard to do by yourself. That's where the Combat Focus Shooting iPhone app comes in. I tried this app recently and found it gives me another option for range practice.

The app is designed to be used with Rob Pincus' "Balance of Speed and Precision" series targets but it can be used with any targets. Essentially the app gives you a random set of voice commands telling what target or target area to engage. Setting up a drill is a matter of selecting the range of commands to be given; choosing from directions, numbers, colors, and shapes. There is also one basic command "Up" that can be set to come up with varying frequency. The "Up" command is meant to represent a large or center area of the target, which one would shoot with multiple hits. The other command options would represent small targets requiring more precision, and hit with a single shot, hence the "Balance of Speed and Precision" moniker. You can set the drills up in any manner of your choosing to fit your targets and training goals. Setup also include the number of iterations and interval between each command.

The iPhone sound volume is limited so this app is best used with headphones, and by one person. While wearing ear protection, a group of people wouldn't be able to reliably hear the commands from the iPhone speaker. I plugged my iPhone into the input jack on my electronic ear protection. If you use passive ear muffs, just use the regular iPhone ear bud and place your ear protection over them. (Do not rely on the ear buds for sound protection.)

The Combat Focus Shooting app is one more tool in my box of options for adding variety and fun to my range trips. It gives me a way to practice getting the pistol sights on target quickly and accurately. And with just a bit of geek factor thrown in too.

Stand Up. Vote.

No excuses. No whining. Do it.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Cidery Coming To Richmond

Richmond BizSense is reporting on a new cidery planned for Richmond, VA.
A Richmond cider startup hopes to open this fall and join the blossoming “drink local” movement. 
Entrepreneur Courtney Mailey will open Blue Bee Cider in Manchester, joining a rapidly expanding fermented cider market. She said Blue Bee would be Richmond’s first cidery — or at least the first in a long while. 
“I’ll be the first since colonial days. I believe William Byrd had a pretty substantial cider operation,” Mailey said.

The first product, due out this fall, is an apple juice. By next spring, Blue Bee Cider plans two cider varieties, followed by a cider fortified with brandy in about a year.

The cidery is under construction in a building across the street from Legend Brewing Company. That should make for some fun road trips.

See "Cider startup builds buzz" for more information and some pictures of the site under renovation.

You can track Blue Bee's progress on Twitter and Facebook.

2nd Amendment Doublespeak

Classic "I support the 2nd Amendment, however..."
Dear Mr. [Constituent],

Thank you for contacting me regarding recent legislative efforts that would create reciprocity for concealed carry permits.

I realize that there are very strong opinions on both sides of the debate around Second Amendment rights.  I support public policies that ensure the responsible and appropriate use of guns, as well as efforts to reduce gun-related crimes through increased enforcement and background checks. I supported full funding of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), the only national database that flags individuals who are precluded under current law from purchasing or possessing firearms.  I do not, however, support laws or regulations that infringe on the Second Amendment Constitutional right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms.

In the aftermath of the tragedy in Tucson, Arizona and in light of the Virginia Tech shootings, we must remain vigilant in our efforts to ensure firearms do not get into the wrong hands.  In the United States Senate, legislation on gun control generally falls under the jurisdiction of the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which I am not a member.  However, I will keep your views in mind should any legislation on this matter come before the full Senate in the future.

Again, thank you for contacting me.  For further information or to sign up for my newsletter please visit my website at

United States Senator

He pontificates on his support for "law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms" but at the same time believes those same law-abiding citizens turn into non-trustworthy citizens as soon as they board an Amtrak train. And throwing the VA Tech shooting out there is a typical gun grabber misdirection.

Sorry Senator, you can't be "half pro-2A" any more than you can be "half pregnant."

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Coffee and Prayer

Enjoying a bit of both this morning.

Well, maybe a lot of each!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Solo Cup Servings

Now that you've figured out your bulk purchase volumes, here's a handy guide to help with the single servings.

Of course, no one's saying you have to stop pouring at the line.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Full Fledged Hoplophobia

Australian olympic swimmers Nick D'Arcy and Kenrick Monk have the hoplophobes up in arms. (No pun intended.) While training in California the two visited a gun shop and subsequently Monk posted a picture on Facebook of the smiling duo holding, wait for it, GUNS! Eeek! Naturally the anti-gun crowd go their panties all in a twist. The sin? Those guns look like guns used during horrific crimes.
Mr Crook said Monk was holding the same pump-action shot guns used by Martin Bryant, who murdered 35 people in Port Arthur in 1996. 
D'Arcy was pictured holding semi-automatic pistols, similar to those used by Virginia Tech gunman Cho Seung-Hui. 
"It's a disgrace to the Olympic swimming team," [Gun Control Australia spokesman] Mr Crook said.
What would Mr. Crook do if the swimmers had visited a car dealer and posed with Toyota Tundras instead? The sheer mind-numbing idiocy that passes as logic in the anti-gun crowd never ceases to amaze me. C'mon people, guns are inanimate objects. Cure your own phobia instead of projecting it on others.

Now if you want to criticize Nick D'Arcy for his stupid duck lip grin, I'm with you.

Full story here.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Bless This Beer

NoVA Summer BeerFest Breweries

The list of breweries participating in the 2102 Northern Virginia BrewFest is available here. Currently there are 10 breweries participating for the first time. They are highlighted in yellow in the listing. With first-timers such as Corcoran, Devils Backbone, DuClaw and Great Lakes, joining over 50 other breweries, there's more than enough reason to go. I know I'm psyched.

The NoVA BrewFest will take place Saturday & Sunday, June 23 & 24 in Leesburg, VA. Tickets are available in advance online, as well as at the gate.

The list of breweries is subject to change. See the "2012 Brewery List" for the latest.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

How Many Pints In A Keg?

Now here's information we can use. Courtesy of Tom Cizauskas, a handy chart to compare beer volumes when planning your next event.

Or, just use the info to impress your friends with your in-depth knowledge.

Click to view original
H/T @Cizauskas on Twitter.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

June USPSA Match Report

The "Have A Plan" Edition

On Saturday I shot the June USPSA match sponsored by Fredericksburg Practical Shooters. The match consisted of 7 stages. Six stages made use of the setup left from the VA/MD Sectional held a couple weeks ago, plus one Classifier stage. Regular readers may recall my previous laments about my planning for a stage going awry. I've been working on committing my plan of attack to memory before each stage, and then sticking to it. And honestly, I've been pretty happy with the results of that exercise. 

The second stage I shot at this match, which was the Classifier, was quite uncomplicated. Draw, engage the four targets with one shot each, perform a mandatory reload, then one more shot on each target. The second string was the same, except after the reload the four targets were to be engaged strong hand only. The third string required four shots weak hand only. On the second string, after the reload, I engaged the four targets freestyle, not SHO. Four shots, four procedurals, 40 point penalty. I forced myself to laugh at my lapse. Afterwards I realized that I have no memory of making a "plan" for that stage. During the reading of the stage directions I thought "Okay, that's pretty straightforward." But I never walked through it in my head, like I try to do on every other stage. Good lesson; it really does help!

On another stage I had to take a few extra shots on steel and needed an extra reload. But I still made the planned reload at the spot I intended, which kept the of the stage on plan, even though I had taken only two shots from the "extra" mag. Stick to the plan.

One of the more interesting stages involved a wide "door" that pivoted in the middle. There were paper and steel targets behind each side divided by a wall. Pushing the door in on one side caused the other side to swing out. The fault line was at the plane of the door. After shooting on one side, the shooter had to move to the other side. This involved either holding the swinging panel open and backing around it and into the doorway, or pushing the outward facing side in. The swinging panel was spring loaded so it would not stay open without being held. My attack plan for this stage was to hit the targets behind the two ports on either side of the door and then move to the center, pushing the door open on the left side with my right foot and engage the targets. Then reload and push the other side open with my left foot. Holding the door with your foot leads to a slight imbalance when shooting. And that was likely the intent of the course designer!

We started shooting about 9:00AM and finished up a little after 3:00PM, which included tearing down the stages. It was a very enjoyable match. The weather cooperated with a slight breeze most of the day, so even the shadeless stages were not too uncomfortable. I ended up shooting on a squad with a bunch of folks I'd never shot with before, and that was a lot of fun too. Odds are pretty good at any shooting sports event you'll meet friendly folks and this day was no exception. As of this writing, the scores have not been posted, so I can honestly say I'm okay with how I shot (with the one exception noted above.)

After the match I still needed to get to Sunday Mass. I had just enough time for a quick shower but little time for "recovery." My apologies Father, I may have dozed off for just a second or three during your homily. Really, it wasn't you, it was me. :-)

Monday, June 4, 2012

50 Cal Bottle Opener

I came across Bullet2Bandages a couple of weeks ago via Facebook. In perusing their web site I learned that this company was founded by two Navy veterans whose goal is to create unique objects from fired brass and use a portion of the profit to support various non-profit organizations which support veterans and their families.

Necklaces and bracelets make up the majority of the products they offer, but I decided the bottle opener made from fired 50 caliber brass would be more useful to me. Besides, one can never have too many bottle openers. And this one is sure to be a conversation starter.

Does it work? Quite well in fact. I admit I had some apprehension that this would be more eye-candy than function, however the cut made to the brass grips the bottle top, and the weight of the brass and reloaded bullet, provides good leverage. Oh, the eye-candy factor is cool too.

I purchased this product myself and no compensation was received for this review.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Viva Cristo Rey!

Our family saw the movie "For Greater Glory" this weekend. I was prepared for a powerful movie, but I was especially moved by how close to home this dark point in Mexican, and U.S. history, really hits. The movie tells the story of Mexico's Cristeros War. This is the true story of a prohibition on religious liberty that led to the deaths of over 200,000 people. This is a story that has been all but covered up by the press, the government, and our educational institutions.

The movie opens with Mexican President Calles giving a speech to his cabinet on the dangers posed by the Church. Immediately I was struck that he was presenting the same rhetoric, the same bigotry, used today by enemies of the Church and freedom. I've heard this tripe personally and I realized that little has changed in 85 years. Initially, the faithful Catholics fought back by celebrating Mass in secret and with economic boycotts. But the government rhetoric eventually led to government violence and oppression. We would be hard pressed to recall a time in history when government rhetoric against religious liberty did not progress to government violence against religious liberty.

While the current government attack against the religious liberty advanced by the Obama administration in the U.S. will hopefully not lead to this level of violence, it is certainly within the realm of possibility. Spend any time reading pro-Catholic news blogs, or even viewing comments posted on Catholic YouTube videos, and you'll witness the level of vileness and hate for religion that exists in this country among the left. This administration's HHS mandate is but an opening salvo on the war on liberty. Despite the claims of dishonest and ignorant politicians, even some who falsely claim to be Catholic, the issue facing the Church today is at its core an attempt to weaken and remove the Church from American life. It is an attempt by anti-Church forces to destroy the building blocks of freedom, to weaken the rights guaranteed by our Constitution. There's a reason that freedom of religion is the 1st Amendment to our Constitution. When it falls, the rest will also fall.

As the Cristeros War wound down, the government offered "accommodations." (Sound familiar?) These were immediately reneged upon. The government murdered hundreds of former Cristero leaders and thousands of former Cristero fighters in reprisals. The oppression against the Church continued throughout the 1930's. Even today, it is prohibited by law to celebrate Mass outdoors in Mexico.

"For Greater Glory" should hit home for all lovers of freedom, not just Catholics. Our own government supplied arms to the Mexican government for use in the war, and even provided military air cover for the Federales in their battles with the Catholic faithful. Neither should this war be thought of as ancient history. The youngest daughter of Cristeros General Gorostieta only recently passed away in 2010.

In his 1994 visit to Baltimore, Blessed John Paul II reminded us of why we must resist attacks on religious liberty. He said: "The challenge facing you, dear friends, is to increase people’s awareness of the importance for society of religious freedom; to defend that freedom against those who would take religion out of the public domain and establish secularism as America’s official faith." The Pope continued, "And it is vitally necessary, for the very survival of the American experience, to transmit to the next generation the precious legacy of religious freedom and the convictions that sustain it." His words ring so true today.

If you believe in religious freedom, if you believe in liberty, you must see this movie. While we pray that the current war on liberty waged by our own government is settled in the courts and the voting booth, "For Greater Glory" serves as a foreboding warning of the alternative.

Actual images from the Cristeros War found here.

Friday, June 1, 2012

It's The Weekend

Let's go!

A Tale Of Two Pale Ales

It's hard to believe that a year has passed since I last participated in The Session. When I saw the topic that The Beer Babe had chosen, I knew I had to participate. For Session #64: Pale in Comparison, she writes:
"What is the one beer style usually makes up the first position in the sample flight, but yet is usually the one that we never get really excited about? The Pale Ale."
I actually do get excited about Pale Ales. As with the ubiquitous pub burger, when I hit a new brewpub, their Pale Ale is a must for me. I prefer the "American" Pale Ale with its emphasis on the citrus, over the English, more "malty" version, but I do enjoy both.

For this post I decided to revisit the house Pale Ales at Fredericksburg's two brewpubs.

Battlefield Brewing Chancellor Pale Ale
At The Pub, home of Battlefield Brewing, my usual selection is the Chancellor Pale Ale. I do believe this beer suffered some growing pains when the new brewery started up. However, I enjoyed a couple of pints recently and was pleased with what I tasted. According to the beer board at the pub, Chancellor Pale Ale is brewed with Centennial and Amarillo hops. The aroma is very faint. The Amarillo hops balance the citrus notes with just a bit of bitterness. There's a modicum of fruit sweetness as well. Mouth feel is on the thin side.

Blue & Gray Falmouth Pale Ale
This is my regular choice whenever I visit Lee's Retreat at the Blue & Gray Brewing CompanyFalmouth Pale Ale is a classic American Pale Ale. My impression is that this beer is second in popularity only to the brewery's Fred Red. This Pale Ale pours a bright amber orange with an off-white head. The aroma brings mild citrus notes with a hint of caramel. The flavor is well-balanced between the citrus hops that hit first and the malty backbone. There's some lingering bitterness in the finish as expected. This is a crisp and refreshing beer to go with any of the pub's food.

Of the two locally brewed Pale Ales, Falmouth Pale Ale gets my pick as my favorite. This Blue & Gray beer is also available bottled in local stores. However, I suggest enjoying it at the brewpub, or picking up a growler to go, for the freshest flavor.

Now I've gone and gotten myself all thirsty again.