Saturday, September 23, 2017

Harry's Wing & Beer Dinner

Last Wednesday evening Harry's Alehouse held a Wing & Beer Pairing. This was the first beer dinner event we've been able to get to at Harry's and it sounded like one we'd very much enjoy; four chicken wing selections paired with four beers.

We arrived late for the start of the dinner, and the diners were close to finishing the second course. (We misunderstood the starting time.) Both the manager and the owner stopped what they were doing and got use seated and made sure the kitchen prepared the missed pairings for us, and we were caught up in no time. We very much appreciated the extra effort and attention.

The first course featured Thai Sticky Wings paired with Allagash White. The three wings were moderately spicy but the Witbier cut right through that and refreshed the pallet. True to the description, the wings were oozing with a very messy and sticky sauce. Fortunately Harry's provided plenty of napkins and wet wipes too!



Next up was Memphis Hot Wings and Triple Crossing Paranoid Aledroid. This time the wings featured a classic dry rub. I'm a fan of the dry rub barbecue and Triple Crossing Pale Wheat Ale is a beer I've enjoyed several times at Harry's as well. I liked this combo very much.

The heat was turned up for the third course of Korean Hot Wings served with Perennial Artisan Keith's Korner. The Wings were smothered in a thick, deep red, and hot, sauce that created a bit of perspiration on the top of my head. Pickled radishes were served on the side. The IPA could not quite overcome the intense flavor of the wings, and its flavor was somewhat lost. Although the pairing didn't work as well as the others, the wing flavoring was very well done.



The final beer of the evening, Founders Nitro Rubaeus, was paired with Peanut Butter and Jelly Wings. Admittedly, I had my doubts about this one. The wings had a strawberry glaze and were accompanied with a peanut butter dipping sauce. The wings were flavorful, but my least favorite of the evening. The beer, to my surprise and delight was very good. I haven't been a big fan of fruit beers but the raspberry flavored beer made for a refreshingly fruity dessert finish.

Harry's Wing and Beer event made for an enjoyable evening. I found it to be a nice twist from the usual "beer dinner." The pairings were well done, and both the wing and beer selections were tasty.

Although the twelve Wings and all the beer was more than satisfying, we were enjoying ourselves so much that we decided to linger for another beer and more food. Since I missed getting the full flavor the Perennial Artisan Keith's Korner IPA, I opted for a glass of that one with my "second" dinner.

We're looking forward to enjoying more events such as this at Harry's Alehouse.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Friday Laugh: Amazon Echo - Silver Edition

I found this to be truly "laugh out loud" funny. Hope it gets your weekend off to a fun start.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Indoor Range Trip

I was anxious to get back on the proverbial horse this week after some disappointing (and some good) shooting at last weekend's Commonwealth Cup match. I took an actual lunch break on Monday and drove up to the local indoor range. Entering the parking lot, I counted as many cars in the lot as they have range lanes, and quickly abandoned those plans. On Tuesday, I tried again with better results.

I was assigned the lane on the far end of the building. Some people I know don't like to shoot next to a wall, but to my way of thinking it means having only one side to watch for careless shooters, and it's easy to keep my brass. 


I was shooting the Compact P320 this trip. The session started with a 50 round "warm up" at 7 yards. After the warm up, I ran the 50 round Julie Golob drill at 10 yards on an IDPA target. Except for a leftward drift when speeding up, it was a good run. The final challenge of the Compact gun practice was 50 rounds fired at 15 yards. I had an excellent run going until I get impatient with the last magazine.

It's amazing what a little trigger time can do for one's mental state. It sure helped mine!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Word of the Day: IDJIT

  • Derived from the Irish Slang word "Eejit", which means a person who is exceedingly Stupid or an Idiot. It was americanized and made "country" and slowly was changed into "Idjit" by southerners.
I would edit to add: Often seen wearing a mask in public. Thinks socialism will work "when done right."

We all know them.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Commonwealth Cup IDPA Match

The alarm sounded way too early on Saturday morning. Even the coffee maker was not awake yet as I prepared to head to the 2017 Commonwealth Cup at the Rivanna Rod & Gun Club. Before I started shooting IDPA regularly, I knew about "the Cup" and I've been looking forward to shooting this match for some time. The organizers took a hiatus from holding the Tier 2 event for a few years, but the match returned in 2017.

The ten stage match was extremely well organized, and although we shot all day, we moved smoothly from stage to stage, with few backups. There were two indoor stages and we were transported across the club grounds in a shuttle bus for those stages. Each squad had a "squad mom" who made sure we knew where to go next and who was due to shoot, and who coordinated with the stage SO's. There was a delicious lunch catered by Mission BBQ. To ensure everyone stayed hydrated a dedicated club member spent the day delivering cold water to the stages for shooters and staff. As the day wore on, the sight of the golf cart carry the coolers full of bottled water became more and more welcome. Simply put, the organizers did a remarkable job of making this a fun event for all.

I regards to my own shooting, I had to digest the match for a few days before doing this post. As regular readers (both of you) may have noticed, I'd been preparing for the event for the last few months. Starting with a good performance at the Maryland State IDPA match in May, I was hoping for a great finish to the year. As it turned out, it was not to be the finale I had hoped. I made more than a few mistakes, and did not shoot as consistently as I had expected.

Despite my scores, I found every one of the stages to be a fun, challenging and interesting to shoot. Some I did well on, on others quite poorly. There were a number of stages that especially stood out to me. I've also posted some photos from the match here.

The match started with the same "warm up" stage shot by all competitors. Three targets getting two hits each, followed by a reload and a head shot on each. I finished in a respectable 7.01 seconds with zero down. Now that the jitters were gone, our squad started on Stage 8, "Park Bench." Sitting on a bench, we engaged two targets, before moving on to a hanging bridge. Carefully making our way across the shaky platform, four more targets were to be found. This was probably my favorite stage of the day, and I shot it well with just one point down.


After shooting our first three stages, we hopped on the shuttle bus for the ride to the clubhouse and the two indoor courses of fire. "Night at the Club" was probably the most talked about stage in the match, and not always in a fond way. This "low light" course presented a disco setting, complete with moving colored lights, and lighted fault lines. There were nine threat targets to be shot from three shooting positions, with non-threats interspersed to create some tight shots.

This was a great concept for stage. The low light with distracting disco lights added to the challenge. However, as it was set up, I found there was simply too little available light. With my poor eyesight, I could not see the far right target at the end of the hallway, the first of a group of three shot from the last shooting position. I could not make it out during the walkthrough and even walked down range to get a better look to better gauge the placement. Younger eyes probably had less of an issue. By a basic rule of gun safety, "be sure of your target," I should not have shot that target. However, following IDPA rules, I was required to engage it or be assessed a penalty, in addition to the misses. I indeed had two misses on that target, as well as two hits on the nearby non-threat. Two hits on other non-threats made for a extremely poor showing.

The funny thing is, as I was packing for the match I thought, “There will be indoor stages, I bet they’ll have a dark stage. I’ll pack a flashlight.” Unfortunately, the use of a flashlight was not permitted.

Everyone I talked to liked the concept of the stage, if not their scores. I actually hope the club reuses the concept in the future, making it a flashlight stage. I personally would like to get a few more opportunities to shoot with a flashlight. A low light stage would be an interesting challenge, as much as I’d struggle. At the end of the day, the stage was challenged and ultimately thrown out. Even though it was my worse stage of the day, dropping it from the match did little to save my day.

After lunch we shot the much talked about standards stage. Three targets placed at 45 yards, requiring two shots on each, a reload, and two more shots on each. No makeup shots allowed. My goal was "hits on paper," of which I had just 8 of 12.

Way. Out. There.

Another challenging stage,"Very Tight," is one we've shot variations of in past matches at Rivanna. Seated at a table, with the gun and reloads on the table, we engaged two rows of targets, nine in total, fronted by non-threats. Heads shots were mostly required for the front row, and lots of leaning for the back. I recall being happy with my shots on previous runs, not so on this day.

"Everything Moving" involved several moving targets. From the starting position there were two static targets and an up-down target activated by a stomp box. One the stationary targets had a falling popper behind it that activated swingers further down the course. At the next position we faced a swinger target moving behind a non-threat. That was followed by a target swinging behind two non-threats at the next position, and the course ended with three stationary targets behind cover. This was another stage I especially enjoyed shooting.

After executing a good few runs to start my match, the middle four stages were extremely frustrating for me. I just was not shooting well, and already knew this would probably be my worse match finish in a long time. I admittedly struggled to be motivated for my remaining runs. I was however, able to finish strong on the final two stages.

"Pick a Path" was a complex stage with 18 targets each requiring a single hit. For most folks, hitting all the targets required moving to six different shooting positions. A couple of the targets required hard leans or stretches to engage the threats through windows. I found it a fun stage, finishing just 2 points down.


The last stage, "Out of Gas" had us starting holding a gas can in our strong hand, while facing up range. After turning and dropping the can, which I was surprised to find weighted and full of water, we engaged two targets while backing up. Next there were targets to be engaged from cover, around barrels and through two vehicles. Many of the shots were tight and only the head areas of the targets exposed. I shot it well, just 2 point down, although that included a few make up shots on a couple of the targets.


We finished hooting the 10 stages around 6:00PM. I shed my gear and relaxed for a bit while the scores were posted. There were several guns to be raffled off so I stuck around for the drawings. Alas, I was not a winner in that event either. There was large prize table for random drawings as well, with some nice prizes. Unfortunately, I found I simply could not stay any longer. I was very tired, and feared that if too much of my drive home was done after dark, it would be dangerous, so I decided to forgo any chances for swag and headed home. Once I got home and cleaned up, I had just enough enough energy left to scoop a bowl of ice cream and carry it to the couch. I was beat.

After a few days of thinking about the match, to include more than a little moaning to my patient wife, the disappointment admittedly still lingers. I shot three good stages, followed by four poor runs, before ending with three decent runs. While I was happy with the five or six stages I shot well, when I did poorly on a stage, I tanked it to the extreme. The sting of the disappointment somewhat clouds the memory of what really was an exceptional match. I typically examine each of my match performances and pick out some specific things to work on in the future — whether it's speed of shooting, movement, draw stroke, etc. This time there seems to be nothing specific, which is most frustrating.

My opportunities to shoot will likely be limited for the next few months, especially competitively. Eventually, I'll get back to the range, pull the trigger some more, put in some dry fire, and try again. There's always next year.

Monday, September 18, 2017

A Prayer to St. Joseph Before Work

This was sent to me recently. I've decided to use it daily. Monday mornings especially.
O Glorious Saint Joseph, model of all those who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work in a spirit of penance for the expiation of my many sins; to work conscientiously, putting the call of duty above my natural inclinations; to work with thankfulness and joy, considering it an honor to employ and develop by means of labor the gifts received from God; to work with order, peace, moderation and patience, never shrinking from weariness and trials; to work above all with purity of intention and detachment from self, keeping unceasingly before my eyes death and the account that I must give of time lost, talents unused, good omitted, and vain complacency in success, so fatal to the work of God.

All for Jesus, all through Mary, all after thy example, O Patriarch, Saint Joseph. Such shall be my watch-word in life and in death. Amen.

– Composed by Pope St. Pius X 

The older I get, or probably more precisely, the younger my co-workers get, the more frustrating the daily grind becomes. But I must remind myself, there's a bigger picture.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Need For Range Time

It occurs to me...

When I do poorly at a match, I am anxious to get back to the range for more practice in order to do better next time.

When I do well at a match, I am anxious to get back to the range for more practice in order to do better next time.

After this weekend's match, it's definitely the former. Time to hit the practice range.

I've had a year of ups and downs on the range. It's a good thing I really enjoy the shooting, no matter what the scores say.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Thinking Outside the Box

One has to give Alex Diamond points for creativity.
Diamond was planning on attending New York City’s annual electronic music festival, Electric Zoo. The festival – held on Randall’s Island – was set for Labor Day. So, three weeks before that, Diamond traveled out to where the event was going to be held to case the scene.

Upon surveying where the area, Diamond “buried a Nalgene bottle full of vodka on the grounds of Electric Zoo,” he said on Facebook.

“The planning of the burial was simply,” Diamond posted on his Festival Pro Tips’ Facebook page. “We used Google maps and marked our spot on GPS so we knew where it would be. Then we waited.”

That's one way of avoiding the high cost of alcohol at events. After forking over $10.50 for a plastic cup of beer at Fedex Field a few weeks ago, I can relate. (It was Devils Backbone Eight Point IPA, so at least it was good beer.)

 See "Man sneaks alcohol into festival by burying it three weeks earlier" for the full story.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Celebrating 33 Years

For my wonderful wife and best friend on this special day as we mark 33 years of marriage. Colleen, I give thanks to God every day for putting you in my life. I look forward to 33 more years!

And now a musical interlude to help celebrate...




Happy Anniversary to a beautiful, loving, and patient, lady. I am blessed.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

More Trigger Time

In a fortunate turn of events, I had some free time after work Wednesday afternoon so I ran over to the range for a quick bit of trigger pulling. Since I'm shooting a large match this weekend, I figured a few extra rounds down range wouldn't hurt.

It was a simple and short session; 150 rounds mostly shot from 15 yards. At that moderate distance, I often find myself aiming for the center of the blurry brown object, instead of the upper half of the IDPA target. Concentrating on the where on the target results in better hits. I've noticed also that putting a black paster in the center of the -0 zone is a good training aid, but that helper isn't present in a match.

I'm as ready as I can be for the weekend. Shooting by myself on the range is a poor approximation of a match under pressure, but at least I go in feeling good. And it will be fun no matter what!

The mental picture for the weekend

That's Not Even Coffee

I found myself in the drive-thru lane buying overpriced chain coffee on a Saturday morning. I could overhear the driver in front of me ordering, "Doppio decaf espresso."

Huh? At first, I wasn't sure I heard correctly. Apparently neither did the barista, and she had the customer repeat his order.

In my opinion, decaf coffee is, by definition, not coffee. Decaf espresso to start your morning is even more non-sensical. And a double no less.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Range Trip to Beat the Monday Blues

After a fun weekend away, I faced not only Monday, but a yard in need of mowing. Getting home from work I knocked out the grass, with still enough day left to get out to the range for a bit of practice. I had considered taking along some "terrorist targets" to mark the day, but opted to stick with the standard IDPA targets as I had specific drills planned. Again, I took along my current favorite guns, the two SIG P320 pistols.

The fun started with the Compact pistol from the 15 yard line. Right off the bat, the day was looking better with the first 10 rounds all hitting tight in the -0 zone. Feeling confident, I moved closer to the 7 yard line, and started working on strong hand and weak hand only shots, using the head zone of the target. Still, I was in the zone it seemed. I finished the rest of the box of ammo back at the 15 yard line.



Switching to the Full Size P320 for the rest of my time, I again started at the 15 yard line and then moved in for the SHO and WHO drills. Interestingly, I think I shot the smaller gun a bit more accurately when using just one hand.

Since I hadn't shot from distance very much recently, I ventured back to the 25 yard line. Shooting about 50 rounds from 25 yards, I was feeling good with my shooting. Good hits increase the pleasure of the rang time. Now confident and perhaps a bit cocky, I hiked the target down to the 50 yard berm. Just seeing the target at that distance is a challenge for me. A return hike after 10 rounds fired from 50 yards beat back my confidence a tad. Hitting paper 6 times, but with 5 in the -1 zone, led me to decide to work on that more. Another day.

Returning to a more sensible 15 yards, I worked on drawing from the holster and trying for a shot on target as quickly as the distance would allow. The session was capped off with a magazine's worth of fast pairs from the holster on the 10 yard target.

Overall, it was both a satisfying and fun practice session. The range has overly strict (IMHO) rules on fast shooting, a limitation I am trying to make some use of for mental preparation. I often find myself shooting too fast in the heat of competition, and getting ahead of my sights. Perhaps if I tell myself, "range speed" during the match I'll have better results. At the very least, successful practice sessions make for fun memories when relaxing with a beer later in the evening.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Rising Silo Brewery

I am not sure how we missed this place for so long. We've been visiting Blacksburg, VA regularly for several years, and had somehow never heard of Rising Silo Farm Brewery. The brewery is located just a couple miles from where we frequently stay, and after seeing an article online recently we decided to check it out during our last trip.

The brewery is located on a working farm, Glade Road Farm where visitors can also buy fresh vegetables, meats, and dairy products. A small kitchen is on site offering a limited selection of freshly made foods. An outdoor seating areas offer great views of the mountains and farm.



We made our visit to Rising Silo before dinner on a Friday evening, and there was quite a crowd already enjoying the beer. The brewery was offering 11 different beers and we debated on getting a flight. They also offer 8, 12 and 16 ounce pours. It's great to see options in serving sizes at craft breweries.

We eventually decided to forgo the flight and picked a couple beers. I figured I could always order another round. Colleen picked Blue Hefer-weizen. The beer had an interesting reddish tint to it, and Colleen found it very flavorful. I opted for Goat's Eye Rye Pale Ale. The spiciness of the rye was quite apparent, along with a mild bitterness. I thought this was a most exceptional beer, and enjoyed it very much.



We grabbed a couple pieces of locally made pita and focaccia breads to munch on as we enjoyed the beers. As we did, we struck up a conversation with a local couple who are regulars at the brewery. who told us how it was a popular spot among local residents as well as students. There were indeed a lot of families with young kids running around. 

I started reviewing the beer menu with the intent of trying another beer. Unfortunately, we had very little time for this visit, and the line for beer had gotten quite long. While it seemed to be moving quickly, I opted to forgo trying to squeeze in a second round.



As we left, we noticed that the crowd had grown significantly. The large parking area was quite full. and there was now even a parking attendant helping to direct people to open parking. Obviously, this is a popular spot, and not unknown to the residents of Blacksburg. The couple we spoke to earlier deemed it "the best beer in Blacksburg." We will definitely be back.

Monday, September 11, 2017

September 11: A Day That Must Never Be Forgotten

It's been sixteen years. Memories fade. There's a whole generation that doesn't remember the reality of that day. The events of September 11, 2001 brought horrors to our shores that the world should never be allowed to forget.

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


Never in its 1400 year history has islam "coexisted" in peace with the rest of the world. It is foolhardy, and deadly, to believe it ever will.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

September 9 is "Buy a Priest a Beer Day"

A tradition initiated by the folks over at The Catholic Gentleman, "Buy a Priest a Beer Day" seems a worthy event.
On this festive day, faithful Catholics all over the world take their priests out for a beer and get to know them better. It’s a beautiful Catholic tradition that goes back to the time of St. Hopswald of Aleyard, the first man to take his priest out for a beer.

Okay, St. Hopswald wasn’t real, but your priest is real. Priests are people too, and they enjoy socializing over good food and drink as much as anyone. They also have a thankless and difficult job, a job that we couldn’t get to heaven without. Priests are the lifeblood of the Church, and they deserve some appreciation.

Even if you can't do it today, most of the priests I know would appreciate the gesture any day.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Armed Lifestyle: Packing for a Weekend Trip

When one is dedicated to an armed lifestyle, packing the suitcase for a weekend trip goes beyond just considerations of clothes personal items. It occurred to me recently how many more decisions I go through before leaving on even a short trip, and all the "extras" that might be needed.

Unless I am planning on shooting for recreation during the trip, I prefer to bring along just one gun. Therefore the first consideration is always the permissiveness of the venues I'd be visiting. Unless one will be traveling to familiar places, that could entail much research. That information determines how much gun I'll be carrying. All further decisions that follow are based on the selected weapon. First up of course is the holster decision. Will my usual IWB carry method suffice? Is there a need to also pack a pocket holster? Rarely do I travel with a just a single holster.

After the holsters are selected, the spare magazine needs go under consideration. Is my typical belt carry sufficient? Will I need the pocket magazine carrier for deeper concealment? Not to be forgotten, depending on the weapon selected, how many spare magazines are sufficient?

When I'm at home, going about the normal routines of home and work, my choices are routine and established. However, travel even to a familiar place, can be full of unknowns. Well before I leave I spend time thinking about where I'll be, who I'll see, and what I'll doing. Being prepared for self defense on the road is as important as being prepared for the weather or a nice evening out.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Brief Range Trip

I was plagued by out of town guests at work last week, which meant later days in the office, and therefore was unable to get to the practice range. Unfortunately, my weekend match plans were also scrapped due to inclement weather. Needless to say I was quite anxious to get in some range time, which I was finally able to do after work on Tuesday.

Based on my observations from the last few matches, my live-fire practice plans for the immediate future are to focus on sight alignment and that elusive smooth trigger press.

For this quick before dinner outing I brought just 100 rounds, and planned to shoot fifty with the SIG P320 Compact and the other half with the Full Size P320. The target distance was 10 yards.


The 50-shot routine was 10 rounds slow fire at the -0 body zone, 10 rounds slow fire to the head, 20 rounds in controlled pairs to the body, drawing from the holster between each pair, and the last 10 rounds at a slightly picked up pace at the -0 body zone.

Despite the low round count and the brevity of the session, it was a beneficial and enjoyable outing. I was pleased with the hits, though I noticed that on the controlled pairs I had a tendency to drop the second shot lower than the first. Next time I do this I'll increase the number of multi-shot strings and work on that further. I was pleased to see no discernible difference in accuracy between the two guns, at the speed I was shooting.

Switching to the P320 Full Size after shooting the Compact showed another reason I've grown fond of the P320 platform — there was no need to change the holster or the magazine pouches between gun. That makes it even easier to pack for the range, which I hope to be doing again, very soon.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

First Oktoberfest Beer of the Season

The Labor Day holiday marks the traditional end of Summer. And the cool, wet weather we're having certainly emphasizes that. One thing I do like about this time of year is the appearances of the Oktoberfest beers. Oktoberfest doesn't start until September 17 and Fall doesn't officially start until September 22, but we're kicking both off a little early.

I make an effort to try as many different Oktoberfest beers as I can each year. A dinner out at BJ's Restaurant was the start of the 2017 Oktoberfest season for me.


BJ's Oktoberfest pours a bright, transparent reddish-orange. The advertising glamor shot to the contrary, there was but a thin ring of head at the top of the glass. The beer itself is extremely low in carbonation with a flat mouthfeel. The flavor was a rich maltiness with very little bitterness.

I'd rank BJ's Oktoberfest as average. Not bad, but not exceptional. Surely, it will be just the first of many Märzen style beers I enjoy in the next couple months.

Friday, September 1, 2017

"Match Cancelled"

It was disappointing to see those words jump out at me from my inbox. I was looking forward to the road trip with a friend tomorrow to shoot the September IDPA match at Sanner's Lake in Maryland. But alas, inclement weather has brought those plans to a screeching halt.


With the wet weather we've been having, I have no doubt the conditions at the range are poor, and will only worsen. Looking on the bright side, I was motivated last night to clean my gun in anticipation so it will be still clean the next time I use it. And, given the wet weather, I will get a reprieve from cutting the grass it seems.