Monday, December 31, 2012

Ending 2012 With A Bang

Actually, many bangs. I had an email over the weekend from a friend who's gotten interested in shooting recently. He was letting me know he had picked up a SIG P232 in .380 ACP. I arranged to meet him at the range this afternoon. I was already excited to be able to introduce a new shooter to the sport, and then he text messaged asking if his wife could come along and bring her new SIG Mosquito .22. "Sure, the more the SIG the merrier" I responded. "Okay," he replied, I'll bring my SIG 1911 too."

Now, many readers know I am an unabashed SIG Sauer fan, and this was getting truly exciting. He was bringing not one, not two, but three, brand new SIG pistols. Add my two into the mix, and we had quite a nice looking bench!

We arrived at the range and had to wait just a few minutes for an open bay. I started out by going over the 4 rules of gun safety, emphasizing very clearly that I did not want to see any guns swung my way. Next, we went over the features of the guns and their operation. Moving to the firing line, I worked with both the new shooters on grip and stance. Once we got to the actual shooting both of them were shooting decent groups at 5 and 7 yards.

When I take new shooters to the range, I plan to focus on their shooting, not my own. But of course, this trip I made sure to shoot the new SIGs too. I hadn't gotten to shoot a 1911 SIG previously. The 1911 Scorpion shot very nicely of course. I also let my friends shoot my guns. And as it never fails to do, the P226 impressed them both. I don't find it hard to imagine that a 226 will be added to their collection soon.

Introducing new shooters to the thrill of the sport, and helping them move toward self-defense independence was a great way to spend an afternoon. That it was a SIG Sauer-focused event was an additional thrill for me. I really can't think of a better way to finish out the year. I'm looking forward to shooting with these friends again in 2013.

After this afternoon's fun it's time for a movie and some snacks with my family. And of course a good beer to cap off the year.

Hypocrisy Defined

"Gun control" isn't about saving lives, it's about "people control" and creating a caste system where the so-called "elite left" has a set of rules for themselves, while promoting another set of restrictive, rights-limiting rules for the rest of us.

Need more proof? Try these:

Friday, December 28, 2012

Relaxing Over Old Beer

We enjoyed our second Christmas celebration Thursday with a Checkered Flag who was visiting for the day. The day began with a hearty brunch of Scotch Eggs, Scottish Baps with Bacon, "Chips" and Baked Beans. After the gift exchange we enjoyed an afternoon of fun conversation listening to seasonal music. Once we decided we wouldn't be hitting the range it was time for beer.

Our friend had read the Mad Elf post and remarked "That sounded good." So for him I grabbed a bottle of that from the cellar. "Look, the bottle is even properly dust covered." For Colleen, I poured a 2009 Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout. We are in the Octave of Christmas after all. There can hardly be a better reason to celebrate.

I had just read a news release about this year's batch of Sierra Nevada Bigfoot arriving in the stores and was tempted to grab an old bottle of that favorite for myself. Instead, I selected a "fresh" beer; Starr Hill Northern Lights IPA. Not aged, but one (or two) I enjoyed immensely. Even though this time I didn't enjoy an older beer myself, I was happy to share the joy of some special beers with others.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I've been enjoying pulling out special beers we had set aside. There was a time I hesitated to finally open an "old" beer, but beer is meant to be enjoyed. And it's not like I'm not continually replenishing the cellar anyway.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Mad Elf Christmas

After finishing off the excellent Christmas dinner of Standing Rib Roast, Oyster Casserole and Yorkshire pudding prepared by Colleen, I was ready to sit down with a special beer. Relaxing with a good strong beer is my digestive. I've been eyeing the bottles of Tröegs Mad Elf Ale stored away downstairs and Christmas evening seemed like the perfect time to break one out.

This Tröegs seasonal beer is one that I always keep around for at least a year before I drink it. Fresh, I find the beer a bit "hot" from the high ABV and overly sweet. The ale is brewed with honey and cherries. I am not a fan of fruit in beer and I find Mad Elf to be cloyingly fruity sweet when first released. However, I discovered years back that aging the bottles for at least a year mellows it out. I've got some 5 year old bottles still in the cellar. The bottle I enjoyed on Christmas was from the 2009 release and was quite enjoyable.

The beer is an attractive deep red color with a thin beige head. The aroma is sweet with dark fruit and a mild earthiness. The flavor of this aged beer is still a bit tart from the cherries, but a hint of sweetness balances that out. The high alcohol content is well-masked. The mouthfeel is thick, leaving behind a sticky coating on the lips.

Even aged, the beer is just sweet enough that one was plenty. Of course, the 11% ABV is a factor as well. In any event, I enjoyed lingering over my glass of Mad Elf Ale. Which reminds me, I probably should look at restocking my stash.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Christmas has arrived and now begins our celebration of the Nativity of Our Lord. Our family began the season with the Vigil Mass last evening. Today the celebration of this Feast continues with lots of good food and cheer, and just lazing around enjoying the day.

I wish you and your family a most blessed and holy Christmas. I pray that the joy of this season continues for you throughout the coming year. Let's make it a year of peace. And of course, one filled with good friends, tasty beer and fun times on the range.

Merry Christmas!

Birthplace of Jesus, Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem
Photo by C. Turley, August 2010

"Behold a virgin shall be with child, and bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us."
--Matthew 1:23

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve

After the Christmas Vigil Mass, Colleen and I traditionally sit down to a good beer and some snacks while we reflect on the joy of the season. This year I found a bottle of Delirium Nocturnum in the cellar. This Belgian Strong Dark Ale goes just fine both with some chips and dip, as well as the Pickled Herring on crackers. And of course, Colleen's homemade fudge.

After the hectic days of preparing for Christmas, this evening is most peaceful, but filled with anticipation of the Feast ahead.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Vacation, Day One

Sleep in. (It's all relative.) Check
Cook big breakfast for family. Check
Dry fire practice. Check
Spend an hour at the pistol range. Check
Relax over a beer with wife. (New Belgium Snow Day) Check
Grill burgers for dinner. Check
Watch LOTR Two Towers DVD with family. Check

If Saturday was any indication, it's going to be a great vacation.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Candy Cane Factory

As we enter the Christmas holiday week, enjoy these scenes of a classic candy being made.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Five O'Clock Friday: I Bet You Smile

Sometimes we just need a laugh. That is all.

Christmas Shopping

I'm late getting started. But these annual favorites are a good beginning.

The Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout will be put aside for another year. We'll be enjoying previous years' purchases. The Sierra Nevada Celebration will be enjoyed while fresh. And will surely be replenished soon.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Hypocrisy Is Killing Us

ProudHillbilly, over at From the Caer, has an thought-provoking post on the hypocrisy of the hand-wringing over the tragic violence our nation has experienced recently.
This culture runs around demanding freedom, demanding choice, declaring that absolutes of truth and right and wrong do not exist, that the worth of a human life is based on its usefulness, or on its generating a warm fuzzy. Well, that attitude walked up and gave its supporters a big, wet kiss on the lips on Friday.
There's not much I can add to her powerful words, so go read the whole thing.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


"We know that the sheep live in denial; that is what makes them sheep. They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world. They can accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why they want fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout their kids' schools.

But many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police officer in their kid's school. Our children are dozens of times more likely to be killed, and thousands of times more likely to be seriously injured, by school violence than by school fires, but the sheep's only response to the possibility of violence is denial.

The idea of someone coming to kill or harm their children is just too hard, so they choose the path of denial." 
- Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman, U.S. Army, Retired

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Virginia's Growing Craft Brewery List ran a nice piece on the growing number of craft breweries in Virginia. The story features Ashland's Center of the Universe Brewing Company. - Richmond, VA News, Weather, Traffic

Eight more breweries, and related jobs, coming soon to Virginia? That's intriguing to say the least.

See "Craft beer breweries pouring into Central Virginia" to read the accompanying article.

(RSS Feed subscribers cans see the video at the link.)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Chips? Or Not?

During a recent visit to Park Lane Tavern, my astute son made an observation on the pub's menu. "They're not very consistent," he noted.

He noted that the "Fish & Chips," served with what we call "fries" in the U.S.

He then pointed out the "Tavern Chips."

He's an unabashed potato fan so it's no surprise that he was studying these menu items. Of course, he also remembers his potatoes from our Ireland trip. His suggestion was that if they're listing "Fish & Chips," then the second menu item should actually be "Tavern Crisps."

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Yes, Something Must Be Done

Again, the face of evil has again reared its ugly head. Just days after a tragic mall shooting that left three dead, a deranged gunman has left a trail of 27 bodies in Newtown, Connecticut. And once again, we are reminded how helpless we have allowed ourselves to become against such evil. Even before the bodies were removed from the elementary school, the blood dancers were demanding further restrictions on our natural rights to protect ourselves and our loved ones. The president put on his thespian costume to go on TV to shed crocodile tears over the dead children. (All the while cheerfully planning for continued tax money for Planned Parenthood, who killed around 900 children that same day.) The protesters lined the street in front of the White House, NOT to mourn the dead but to demand further restrictions be imposed on innocent citizens.

The president called for "meaningful action" to prevent these tragedies from occurring. Yet, he and others like him bear responsibility for setting so many innocents up for slaughter. They created the "gun free zones" that attracted the deranged individuals. Mass shootings at shopping malls, movie theaters, churches, and schools all have one thing in common. Law-abiding citizens are denied the ability to defend themselves. Dim-witted lawmakers and dependent voters made sure the criminals had free reign for their heinous deeds. A few years ago after a man killed two police officers, VA Senator Saslaw introduced a bill to prevent citizens from taking guns into police stations. The gunman had no issue with current laws against murdering police officers, so just how much of an idiot do you have to be to think he'll be bothered by a "no guns allowed" sign on the door.

Yet, that is just the sort of brain-dead thought that passes for logic among the "gun control" crowd. They want special restrictions on weapons they have superficially labeled "assault weapons." Their designation is based merely on what the inanimate object looks like. The appearance of the weapon has nothing to do with the destruction for which an evil person might use it. The 9/11 bombers carried nothing more than box cutters to carry out their murderous deeds. MinYingjun used a knife to injure 23 school children in China. The common factor among these deeds is not the weapon used. In Connecticut, Oregon, Aurora, Columbine, Virginia Tech, and other places, the commonality is the presence of people intent on doing evil and a defenseless victim pool.

So yes, I agree with the president, we need "meaningful action." In fact, I demand meaningful action. It is time for the American public to stand up and demand that our defensive rights not be limited. The lawmakers and the people who support them are complicit in the deaths of these innocent children. It is they who insist that the innocent be left unprotected and vulnerable. In the words of Stewart Rhodes, Founder of Oath Keepers,
This shooting is yet another tragic example of the failed, grotesque insistence on helpless victim zones where any crazed gunman can be assured of a large number of disarmed, undefended, helpless victims, all crammed into one place, where he can kill many children before an armed defender arrives from elsewhere.  It is disturbing and sick that the federal government so hates the right of the American people to bear arms, and so hates their natural right to self defense, that the government insists on making them helpless, disarmed victims for anyone who cares to kill them.   And in this case, all of the teachers and staff were willfully disarmed by the Federal Government, by force of law and threat of prison, to ensure that they would be disarmed and incapable of saving the lives of the children entrusted to their care.
How many more people must die before the American people stand up and demand an end to victim disarmament zones? Like sheep being led to slaughter, we stand idly by, letting dishonest and hypocritical politicians get away with providing support to killers. These same politicians demand armed protection for themselves and their families. The Brady group, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, The Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and others of their ilk scream out for more "gun control." They focus on an object, and play on the irrational fears of others to create more innocent victims. It's time to face the obvious. It is not the weapon that is the issue. We cannot deny that evil exists. What we can do is stop cooperating with evil by keeping people defenseless.

It's is indeed time for meaningful action. It is time to allow people to be armed and cease creating feel-good "sensitive areas" where you and your children are sitting ducks. No one knows if an armed citizen in any of the recent tragedies could have stopped the killers. What is obvious is that NO ONE was even allowed the option. It's also obvious that the killing locations were chosen because of the concentration of defenseless victims. These killers are cowards. Like all criminals, they choose their victims because they can't or won't fight back. Responsible citizens need to stop merely trying to save the gun-related rights we still have. The time is now be on the offensive, and demand an end to restrictions of our God-given rights. Responsible citizens must be allowed the right to defend themselves EVERYWHERE and ANYWHERE, without restriction. Government and law enforcement cannot and will not protect us.

I'll say it right now and clearly. If you are the type of person who utters calls for "gun control" you are complicit in making these tragedies possible. If you want "reasonable restrictions" on the types of weapons I can own, you are complicit in assuring the criminals have an advantage. If you continue to support "gun free" zones, you are showing you don't care if me or my family are defenseless against perpetrators of evil. I consider those who try to restrict my right to self-defense, in any manner, just as much of a danger to my safety and the lives of my loved ones as the psycho who would attack them.

Yes, I am angry. I am angry that these innocents have lost their lives. I am angry that families are mourning. And I am angry that our government demanded that they be left open for slaughter. If someone wants to go about life with no more than a "hope" that violence never finds them, that is their choice. I pray every morning that I will not need to defend my life that day, and I pray every night in thanks that I did not. But I will not leave my loved ones at risk to assuage the weaknesses and phobias of others. The right to self defense and the right to defend our children from harm is God-given and cannot be taken away or limited by any man or government.

10 Days Until Christmas

Just sayin' ...

Friday, December 14, 2012

Tasting Beer: New Title On Inkling

Tasting Beer: An Insider's Guide to the World's Greatest Drink by Randy Mosher is a popular guide to everything beer. Author Randy Mosher is a Chicago-based Cicerone who's written extensively on the subject. Now, Inkling, a publisher of interactive books has joined with with the author and the publisher of Tasting Beer to provide an electronic version for iPads, iPhones, and your computer. The guide is available as a standalone app in the iTunes App Store, from within the Inkling website, or via the Inkling iOS app.

I've been enjoying reading Tasting Beer on my iPad. The book content itself is very interesting. It's easy to digest and is suitable for both the beer novice and expert alike. There are chapters on the history of beer, beer styles, brewing, tasting beer, food pairings, among others. The electronic version of the guide has all the content of the printed book, plus some extra features:
  • Integrated 'Tasting Records' allow readers to record their favorite brews
  • Tappable glossary definitions for names, labels, and terms (see an example
  • Interactive images and infographics like slideshows, slidelines, and guided tours (see an example)
  • Social tools that allow you to follow friends’ notes and interact directly within the title

For a limited time you can get Tasting Beer: An Insider's Guide to the World's Greatest Drink in the iTunes App Store at a great price. This title is available for only $1.99 (regularly $12.99) from Friday, 12/14/2012, to Sunday, 12/16/2012. The sale price is good for the iOS stand alone version of the book. You can download and use the iOS app book without needing an Inkling account. However, if you sign up for an Inkling account when you open the book app, you will also be able to access the book, and other Inkling titles, both online via your web browser and within the Inkling app on iPhone or iPad.

Note: I was provided a free copy of the book in my Inkling account for possible review. This review was written of my own free will and without compensation.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Oskar Blues Schwag

Oh Happy Day! The previously mentioned growler and cap from Oskar Blues Brewery was delivered to my office. I might have to go out and pick up some Old Chub to celebrate. Just to make up for the missed opportunity recently, of course.

In related news, the new Oskar Blues' brewery in North Carolina has opened.

See "Oskar Blues brewery opens in Brevard" for more info on the new brewery.

Devils Backbone Kilt Flasher

Photo by Colleen
A few weeks ago we were dining at Park Lane Tavern and saw a sign for an upcoming "Steal the Glass" night featuring Kilt Flasher Scottish Ale from Devils Backbone Brewing. I marked the date on my calendar, and Wednesday returned for an evening of good beer and food. I was soon joined by wife and son, and also Checkered Flag who drove down from Northern Virginia to join our little party.

The Kilt Flasher was served in a Devils Backbone logo glass. I've got one other of these glasses from another event and it's a nice glass, easy to hold and good looking too. The souvenir glass was an added bonus to the good beer. Kilt Flasher is a dark reddish-brown in color with a sturdy beige head. The aroma is sweet malt caramel with some earthy undertones. The slightly sweet taste has some nuttiness and a hint of bitter hops. A sweet malt flavor remains in the finish. The 8% ABV makes this one a sipper, though the alcohol is well-masked. A long, relaxed meal gave me time to enjoy a couple pints of this seasonal release.

We started our meal with the pub's Tavern Chips. The crispy house-made potato chips are topped with cheddar cheese, bacon, scallions and BBQ sauce. The bacon and sweet BBQ sauce went quite well with the malty beer. And then in a fine example of the diversity of beer and food pairing, we proved to ourselves that the beer goes just as well with spicy Tavern Wings.

The good beer and food provided a fun, and tasty, mid-week diversion.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Cure For A Cold?

According to a recent study, beer contains an ingredient, humulone, that could help fight the common cold.
(NEW YORK) -- An ingredient in beer can supposedly help people get over colds, according to a new study. 
But don't get too worked up -- there's a lot more to the story than that. 
For one thing, the study was conducted at Sapporo Medical University in Japan. If the name sounds familiar, it's because the school is owned by beer maker Sapporo Breweries.
Just because the study was sponsored by a brewery doesn't taint it, right. Oh by the way, you need to drink more than a case of beer to get enough of the active ingredient to have an effect. Something tells me at that point you wouldn't really care that you had a cold!

See "Can a Cold One Cure Colds?" for the complete story.

My Reputation Precedes Me

Monday was one of those dreaded "drive to DC and sit in meetings" days. The company was hosting a conference and we had employees from around the world in town, some of whom came bearing gifts. One of our managers who lives in London brought me two bottles from Belgium's Brasserie Du BocqWaterloo Double 8 Dark and Waterloo Tripel 7 Blond. From another employee in Ireland came three beers by the Dungarvan Brewing CompanyCopper Coast Red Ale, Helvick Gold Blonde Ale and Black Rock Irish Stout. Coincidently, the first two of these I got to try in Ireland recently. I'm looking forward to getting another taste of them, and of course trying all the other beers as well.

In another awesome surprise, one of the system administrators from our Colorado office brought along one of the new stainless steel growlers from Oskar Blues, as well as a cap from the brewery. Unfortunately those two gifts got locked in a room while I was in a meeting, so a coworker will be delivering those treats later this week.

All these great beer gifts were certainly a fine consolation for being in meetings all day. I guess it's good to be the guy who divvies up company resources among business units. Well, I don't mind a little bribe every now and then. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Steel At Lunch

I arrived home very late last night early this morning from work meetings so decided to telecommute today. In a nice surprise, Colleen asked if I wanted to go to the range at my lunch break. Now that's an offer I can't refuse! We decided to take the steel targets as they are quick to set up —and fun to shoot.

We set up the two targets and shot from both the 15 and 12 yard lines. Standing next to each other we shared the targets and often shot them both simultaneously. The sounds of freedom and fun rang out! Though the temperature was a little on the chilly side, the sun was shining, making it very pleasant to be outside.

We didn't stay long but it was a very enjoyable, and unexpected break from the work day.

Drinking With The Irish Again

At the end of a day of meetings I got to enjoy some time in the hotel pub sharing a few pints with some coworkers. I had actually intended to leave for home right after the meetings, but when an Irishman invites you to the pub, one can hardly refuse! I sat down in front of the tap handles and saw they had DC Brau The Corruption on draft.

The Corruption is a very tasty West Coast-style IPA. The malt base is balanced by strong citrus hops. It ha a very full flavor citrus flavors, but did not overpower the taste buds. As we sat and munched on the spicy bar snacks I was reminded again just how well hoppy beers go with spicy food. We were soon joined by a new employee, also from Ireland, so another round was called for. It was interesting that these two Irishmen were very much enjoying the Yuengling and Sam Adams lagers.

Eventually it became obvious I wasn't going to be hitting I-95 South anytime soon, so we adjourned for a great steak dinner and more jovial conversation. It was fun to share stories from our recent trip and also have a bit of familiarity with some of my coworkers' hometowns.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Because it was raining ...

... the range was available. I hadn't planned on making it to the range this weekend. Between two swim meets and other obligations, just getting in my hour of dry fire was going to be tight. Sunday morning I listened to Steve Anderson's daily podcast and he was talking about a match being cancelled due to rain. I've shot a few matches in the rain, but nothing horribly unpleasant. I have however, practiced in torrential rain and even heavy snow. Inclement weather seldom stops us when we have an opportunity to shoot. Steve's remarks got me thinking — if it's raining, chances are no one is going to be out at the range. And it was raining most of the day on Sunday! So I adjusted my plans, and after first doing my dry fire practice session, I got over to the range for a short time just before sunset. I was right, I had the place to myself.

Since there was only a short window of time, I set up just one USPSA target at 21 feet, that's Drill #1 in Refinement and Repetition. I've been consistently hitting a .7 second draw on this drill in dry fire, but was curious to see how that translated live fire. That would be the real test to see how much the dry fire was helping.

Finally getting to try the same drill in live fire was enlightening. After getting warmed up I was consistently getting times of 1.02-1.06 seconds. By the end of my 100 round session I had managed a .99 three times in a row, and even got one off in .96. 

Before I knew it, the sun was getting low and the range was getting dark. One benefit of doing the same drill over and over from the same spot is that all my brass is lying in the same area. It's easy to pick up in the fading light.

Getting to the range is always fun, and when I shoot well and validate the time I've spent in practice, it's even better. I can't match that performance every draw (YET) but considering I rarely got under 2 seconds a month ago, I'm very, very happy with those times. But, no time to celebrate, there's more work to be done.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Flying Dog Brewhouse Rarities

Flying Dog Brewery send along this press release (which got buried in my inbox) announcing the schedule for some special beers for 2013.

Flying Dog Brewery Announces 2013 Brewhouse Rarities Series

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, November 28, 2012

Frederick, MD – On the heels of releasing 40 different beers in 2012, today Flying Dog Brewery announced its 2013 Brewhouse Rarities – a series of innovative, small-batch beers available in the mid-Atlantic only.

“The only criteria that apply to our Brewhouse Rarities is that they are interesting and unusual,” Brewmaster Matt Brophy said. “It has to be something that we are intrigued by and dying to try.”

To determine the twelve releases each year, teams of Flying Dog employees develop recipes and pitch their styles to their fellow peers.

“All areas of the brewery – from our brewhouse to packaging and sales to accounting – are involved in these Brewhouse Rarities pitches,” Brophy said. “It’s important for us to look to everyone at Flying Dog for inspiration on styles that will continue to push not only Flying Dog, but also the craft beer industry as a whole.”

The 2013 Brewhouse Rarities include:
·      Chipotle Dark Ale: January
·      Green Tea Imperial Stout: February
·      Pumpernickel IPA: March
·      Big Black Wit: April
·      Easy IPA: May
·      Pineapple Saison: June
·      Belgian Devil: July
·      Roggen: August
·      Vineyard Blonde (brewed with local Vidal Blanc grapes): September
·      Orchard Ale (brewed with local apples): October
·      Cinnamon Porter: December

Since both the Vineyard Blonde and Orchard Ale are agriculturally dependent, the November release was intentionally left open.

All of the releases will be in draft only, with the exception of the Green Tea Imperial Stout, Belgian Devil, and Cinnamon Porter. Those will be packaged in both draft and 750 ml bottles.

In Flying Dog fashion, the brewery continues to push the envelop, and does so to create good beer, and not merely for shock factor as some brewers are wont to do. Admittedly, Pineapple Saison doesn't tempt me as much as Chipotle Dark Ale or Pumpernickel IPA, but I'm looking forward to trying these out if I get the chance.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Dry Fire Dojo

Confession time. You'll recall I wrote about my dry fire routine previously. I was seeing some progress, though the gains were slow. And frankly, the routine got boring. It was certainly easier to skip a day than to get out my gear and practice. After the Steve Anderson class a few weeks ago, I got myself re-motivated with a much better, and more interesting, dry fire routine.

The first thing I had to do was set up my dry fire "dojo" in the basement. Having a dedicated area to practice isn't a necessity I suppose, but it makes for a more convenient routine. All the needed equipment stays in the basement ready for use. Targets were hung over my beer bottle shelves, in standard USPSA El Prez layout. Initially I used some scaled down targets due to space constraints. However, in order to follow Steve's directions more closely, those were replaced with full-size USPSA targets which meant clearing out more space to give me the full 30 feet needed. I also put up some small plates to simulate a plate rack. Eventually I hope to build a simple swinger to work on that specialized skill too. I marked out the needed distances with tape on the floor, and put down a couple of 3x3 shooting boxes made from PVC pipe. Getting set up also required hanging a couple shop lights to brighten things up in the unfinished basement. Perhaps all the prep work also helps to motivate me; I do have time and money invested now.

The bottles are motivation - for a treat after a job well done!

I am working on the drills from Anderson's first book, Refinement and Repetition. In class, Steve suggested we commit to simply doing the first 12 drills in the book repeatedly for 5 minutes each, plus one additional drill for each daily session. Allowing for the time between drills, I find that takes about 75 minutes to do. A good part of the first few sessions was spent learning the drills and determining my base par times. Recently, it's become more familiar and I'm able to focus on the "doing."

I can get down to the dry fire dojo about 5 days a week, given other commitments. Even if I really don't feel like practicing, I'll force myself. But in all honesty, I think that's perhaps only occurred once, as I look forward to my practice time each day. The improvement I'm seeing is satisfying, and very motivational. I'm reminded of my much younger days when I ran cross country in college - if I missed a day running I was miserable. Back then I had to force myself to take one day off a week for recovery. Given the short days of winter, dry fire may well be my only practice most weeks. At least there's no need to clean the gun after dry fire!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Merry Mischief

As noted planned, Colleen and I shared a bottle of Sam Adams Merry Mischief Gingerbread Stout earlier this week. It was an unexpected treat, and on a "school night" even.

I will admit to a bit of trepidation when opening the beer. So many spiced beers start out being enjoyable, but, for my tastes, often quickly become tedious. As is often the case with fruit beers, I also have spiced Winter Ales left over from six packs purchased years ago.

Merry Mischief pours a deep, dark color with a rich beige head. It smells like a spiced beer. The spices dominate — cloves, ginger, nutmeg — hmm, like a gingerbread cookie. Go figure. The spices take the front seat in the flavor too. However, they are mitigated by the roasted, and slightly sweet, stout. The finish leaves behind a bit bit of sweetness and spice, with a "sufficient" alcohol warmth. At 9% ABV, this is a beer best enjoyed while sipping. Of course that mode of enjoyment often goes by the wayside when one is trying to make notes for a review.

I was very happy that Colleen decided to grab this one to try out. I'll close this post with her statement, which sums it up quit succinctly, "I think I'll get a few more bottles next time I go to the store."

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Feast of St. Nicholas

December 6 is the Feast Day of St. Nicholas. Often considered the inspiration for the tradition of Santa Claus, he is also considered a Patron Saint of Brewing. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, was in attendance at the First Council of Nicaea in AD 325. One of the orders of business for the Council was to refute the Arian heresy. It is said that one point the debate became so heated, an enraged Nicholas punched Arius in the face. While it may have been shocking at the time, one can't help but think he got the point across. I often think we could use a few more Bishops like St. Nicholas today.

Happy St. Nicholas Day!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

It's Good To Be Me

When I got home from work yesterday, this was the sight that greeted me in the kitchen.

Colleen had gone to the store! The Sierra Nevada Celebration is a perennial favorite around here, but the Wittekerke Winter White Ale and Sam Adams Merry Mischief Gingerbread Stout are new to us. "I thought they'd be fun to try" she told me. And then added, "Should we have the Merry Mischief tonight?"

Later in the evening I asked my lovely wife if she saw the ammo sale email I had forwarded to her. The reply, "Yea, I get that email too."

She picks up new beers to try, and follows ammunition sales. Eat your heart out guys!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Gifts For The Shooter Who Has Everything

Speaking of top shelf, here's a shaving brush that goes beyond a plain wooden handle. The Six Shooter Shaving Brush is brought to us by the same folks who gave us the 50 cal bottle opener.

Bullets2Bandages produces unique items from real bullets, casings, and firearms parts. A portion of the proceeds is donated to charities supporting veterans.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Celebrating St. Andrew With Good Beer

This past Friday while our son was away at a high school swim meet, Colleen and I decided to go out and celebrate the Feast of St. Andrew. We headed downtown to Capital Ale House in search of food and beverage.

Colleen was determined to enjoy a Scottish-style Ale in recognition of the Saint. She saw Oskar Blues Old Chub on the draft menu and her decision was immediate. A few minutes later the server returned with the news the Old Chub was all gone. Okay, the other Scottish Ale listed was Belhaven Scottish Ale. Nope, that one's kicked too. Switching back to the Old Chub, she decided to get the canned version. Again our server returned with the news that they were out of the cans as well. This time he brought back a couple bottled suggestions from the bartender. One of those was Belhaven Wee Heavy which she selected to conclude her beer ordering adventure.

The Belhaven Wee Heavy was an exceptionally tasty brew. Wee Heavy is a style I enjoy very much but not one that I have all that often. In fact, if I wasn't already on my own mission for hops, I'd probably would have enjoyed a pint of this Scottish delight myself.

While Colleen was seeking a Scottish focus, I was in the mood to savor some hop-rich brews. Fortunately my ordering process was a bit more successful. I started my hop progression with Laughing Dog Hop Dog Pale Ale. This Pale Ale from the Idaho brewery was rich with grassy, fresh hops, in the aroma and the taste. Brewed with fresh hops, it was quite crisp and refreshing. Sadly, my 10 ounce serving lasted barely until our appetizer arrived.

Next in my hop-focused progression was Hopulent IPA from Utah's Epic Brewing Company. This one was served on nitro. I almost missed the nitro-served IPA as the Ale House's menu listed it as "Coming Soon." Fortunately a friend who is a server at the restaurant (though not ours that evening) passed by our table and let me know to try it. The Hopulent had a creamy texture from the nitrous serving. The aroma was sweet caramel and bready-like malts. The taste followed the aroma, adding very clean citrus and resinous hop notes.

Finally I moved up the scale to a Double IPA. My selection for "dessert" was Firestone Walker Double Jack DIPA. This big beer had the strong aroma of juicy citrus hops. The flavor was a nice balance of sweet malt and grapefruit like citrus. A thick, chewy beer, it was an exceptional finish to my hop adventure.

Colleen and lingered over our drinks and food for quite some time. We enjoyed a wonderful evening of conversation and people-watching. Eventually, we called it an evening and returned home for coffee while we awaited the late return of our son.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Jack Daniel's Operation Ride Home

I posted about Jack Daniel's support of our troops previously. I received an email recently letting me know the distiller is again supporting our Armed Forces through Operation Ride Home.
What: Today, Jack Daniel and the Armed Services YMCA  launched the annual “Operation Ride Home” program to help junior enlisted soldiers and their families travel home this holiday season. The Jack Daniel Distillery will donate more than $100,000 – and asks consumers to contribute as well – to fund travel vouchers for plane tickets, pre-paid debit cards and other means of assistance.

Who: The National Armed Services YMCA of the USA will utilize their vast network and work with military commands around the country and every branch of service to identify junior enlisted service members and families who would benefit from travel assistance.

Calls to Action:
- If you or someone you know qualify as junior enlisted military and could benefit from Operation Ride Home, see your local chapter of the Armed Services YMCA.
- Members of the armed services and civilians alike can help soldiers and their families experience the holidays at home by donating here:
If know someone who needs help, or want to help, please follow the link above for more information or to support Operation Ride Home.