Archives for the ‘Blog Entries.Local’ Category

Happy Birthday, Faithful Companion

Author: David From • Aug 1st, 2014
   Category: Blog Entries.Local
Our faithful family canine, Colonel Mulholland of the Irish Brigade, or Colonel for short, turns 12 years old today. He's a Brittaney, and as such a natural hunter, though he's been solely a house dog. He is however quite adept at catching moles and voles, and there's not a blue-tailed skink near our house that has a complete tail. He is also an impressive stalker of birds, rabbits, squirrels and turtles in the yard. Colonel's an old dog with a very young heart.

As a pup, his energy was boundless, often bordering on manic. But he's mellowed with age, and now spends most of his time sleeping. He often insists on resting with his paws on top of the feet or arms of one of his humans. After all these years he's now claimed, with little resistance, couch privileges. Colonel's still a tough old dog, having survived the years with a heart murmur, erliychia, numerous wasp stings, uncountable scrapes and cuts from running through the woods, and even two copperhead bites (the most recent just two weeks ago). Yet, he just keeps on going! He rotates his time equally among family and friends, allowing everyone the opportunity to scratch his chin.

Best. Dog. Ever.

His play time is less frequent these days, but he'll still greet you at the door with noisy exuberance. Well, if he's awake that is.

Day of Prayer, Adoration, and Solidarity for Persecuted Christians

Author: David From • Aug 1st, 2014
   Category: Blog Entries.Local
Please take some time today to pray for fellow Christians who are being persecuted, driven from their homes, and slaughtered for refusing to deny their faith by converting to islam.
Friday, August 1, 2014 is the day chosen by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) for a worldwide day of Public Adoration of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament in supplication for our persecuted brethren in Iraq, Syria, and the Middle East...

Read more at New Liturgical Movement.

After our silent prayer, we must realize it is also time for worldly action. It's not just Christians in the Middle East who suffer from islamic oppression. This tenant of genocide extends to our Jewish brethren, and reaches even our own homeland. Christians and Jews the world over are victims of ethnic cleansing perpetrated by the moslems. This is not a new phenomena, "convert or die" has been the mantra of islam for 1400 years. Religious and civil leaders, lay people and clergy alike, must speak up and stand strong against this barbarism.

It's time to fight back. I can't emphasize it enough, this is not an issue relegated to a far off land. Genocide and jihad is being preached and carried out right here in the United States. And it's all happening without objection, and even with tacit praise, from the current administration. Remember Mariam Yahya Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman condemned to death for marrying a Christian? When she was finally released, it was the Italian government that provided the transportation. The U.S government, despite the fact that her husband is a U.S. citizen and was also detained by the islamic government, did nothing to help this family.

My Christian friends, "Turning the other cheek" does not mean acquiescence.

"I am a Nazarene too."

"Christianity is not the creed of Asia and Africa at this moment solely because the seventh century Christians of Asia and Africa had trained themselves not to fight, whereas the Moslems were trained to fight. Christianity was saved in Europe solely because the peoples of Europe fought. If the peoples of Europe in the seventh and eighth centuries, and on up to and including the seventeenth century, had not possessed a military equality with, and gradually a growing superiority over the Mohammedans who invaded Europe, Europe would at this moment be Mohammedan and the Christian religion would be exterminated."
--Theodore Roosevelt, writing at the start of the 20th Century

Video from July 24th chase

Author: Chris White From • Jul 30th, 2014
   Category: Blog Entries.Local
Upon reviewing and speeding up my dashcam video from July 24th I realized that we may have missed a funnel underneath the original wallcloud. I sent the sped up video clip to NWS Blacksburg for them to review. After looking at the video and checking radar data their overall conclusion was that it could have been a brief funnel as a weak mid-level mesocyclone was present at the time but it's too far away to tell for sure. At any rate here's the sped up video clip (the feature of interest appears just to the left of the power pole guide wire in the frame around :30):

It's not a big deal - funnel or not - but I was a bit embarrassed at having missed the feature in real time. My "excuse" was that we had been frantically seeking a vantage point from which to view this storm and by the time we stopped and turned on our recording and streaming gear we weren't looking closely enough to notice this. We were also pretty far from the wallcloud (~10-15 miles) so neither surface inflow nor rotational motion was easy to discern. Additionally the storm became outflow dominant shortly thereafter and the wallcloud morphed into a shelf cloud.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it...

Brewer’s Alley: A Return Visit

Author: David From • Jul 29th, 2014
   Category: Blog Entries.Local
We were up in the Frederick, MD area on Sunday to drop off our son and three of his friends at a camp they are attending this week. After three hours on the car with four active teenage boys I was ready for a beer. Last year when we made this same trip, we visited Brewer's Alley and we decided to repeat this year. Since we had more time to spend this visit, we were able to try a few more beers. Colleen ordered a pint of the Hefeweizen, while I opted for a sampler tray of six beers. The hardest part was deciding which six!

I was pleased that the beers, both the cask and "standard" servings, were served up at a nice temperature. Carbonation was low across the board as well, which made for proper tasting. First up was the Kölsch. The flavor was mild, with a grainy aspect, and little bitterness. The next beer was the India Pale Ale, served from cask. It was well balanced, with a sweet caramel base with bitter and piney hops. I enjoyed this English IPA very much, and for a moment, regretted not having a full glass to drink.

Next up, the Oatmeal Stout. This one has a nice roasted grain flavor with a lingering sweetness at the end. A smooth mouthfeel capped it off. 1634 Ale is a Rye Ale, and was next up in the rotation. Described as a "celebration ale" by the brewery, the beer had a sweet molasses base, with mild spices in the background.

New Moon Ale was another cask selection. This was a very flavorful American Strong Ale. The rich caramel sweetness at the start, was followed fruity and pine hops. There's a hint of alcohol at the end, but it didn't overwhelm the other flavors. I really could have enjoyed more of this one too.

Our final selection was Bad Old Man Gose. This beer was released to mark the 150th Anniversary of the Ransom of Frederick. The beer started off with a fruit tartness that gave way to a distinct saltiness. It was an interesting beer, that we both enjoyed, but found hard to describe.

Along with the beers, of course there was food. Colleen ordered the plate of Fish Tacos. They looked quite tasty, and the accompanying Roasted Jalapeño Salsa made a zesty dip for my fries as well. Since we were in Maryland, I went with the Roasted Jumbo Lump Crabcake Sandwich. The thick patty of lumpy crab meat, seasoned with OLD BAY® naturally, could barely hold itself together - there was little in the way of filler! Quite tasty indeed.

We lingered for a while to let the dinner and beer settle, before setting off on the three hour drive ahead of us. The drive home was pleasant, and with just the two of us in the car, the conversation was very enjoyable.

Shooting and Craft Beer

Author: David From • Jul 28th, 2014
   Category: Blog Entries.Local
Visitors to these Musings, know that we frequently follow our shooting range time with the enjoyment of good beer. In fact, we encourage it, in the right order. During our recent visit to Old Ox Brewery, we saw that the Silver Eagle Group indoor range was a neighbor of the brewery. I recently learned that the brewery and the range have teamed up to bring the opportunity to others, with a "Date Night hosted by SEG & Old Ox Brewery":
Have you been looking for the perfect excuse to hire a sitter and get some quality time with your honey? We’ve partnered with our new neighbor, Old Ox Brewery, to give you an exciting date night!  The evening will start with classroom instruction before heading to the range to practice your skills.  SEG staff will be on the range to provide assistance and recommendations.  Once everyone has built up an appetite, we’ll head across the parking lot to the tasting room at Old Ox Brewery for pizza and beer. 
Each person will get to sample four different craft beers and select a pint to enjoy over pizza. Additional pints will be available for purchase. Old Ox Brewery will only be open to date night participants so you can skip the lines and receive personal attention. 
Best targets of the night will earn the winning couple SEG swag and an additional free pint!

This event will be held from 6:30 to 9:30PM on Wednesday, August 13. Sounds like a fun evening. I hope it's successful. We once tried to organize an event at Blue & Gray Brewery after a Fredericksburg USPSA match, but there wasn't enough shooter interest to make it worthwhile.

Note: I am not connected with the brewery or the range. I'm just sharing news on what I think will an interesting event. Though if anyone wants to invite me on a "date," I might be persuaded. ;-)

BUSTed in late July

Author: Chris White From • Jul 28th, 2014
   Category: Blog Entries.Local
Given a steamy airmass over Virginia, a strong cold front approaching from the west, and significant upper level support providing plenty of shear I was very hopeful for a fruitful chase yesterday (Sunday 7/27). The only flies in the ointment I could see ahead of time were (a) an SPC Moderate Risk outlook for the region just west of my chase area and (b) the potential for morning rainfall (possibly as an MCS). The former "fly" seems to always be a downer on my chase chances as Moderate Risks and I don't get along very well. Unfortunately the latter "fly" has the same effect on chasing here in the Old Dominion as the atmosphere rarely has time and space to destabilize again before sunset.

Given the juicy airmass in place I headed east before noon to get in place in the Piedmont ahead of the mid-morning showers. I was hopeful that a decent storm or two would pop along any outflow boundary that might form but I saw nothing but stratiform rain and overcast. The rain departed to the east but the overcast remained behind...for most of the rest of the day. That was the nail in the coffin for afternoon or evening convection even though the shear was robust and surface-based instability was acceptable for storms. The cap just never broke.

I hung around the Rte 29 corridor all afternoon into the evening, even cheering on a weak line of cumulus that built just west of my location. I wasn't alone as Bill Hark - a well known chaser from Richmond - parked 25 minutes south of me in Danville awaiting storms as well. My son joined me for a bit in a futile wait for something to chase. By this time I knew better than to expect a widespread outbreak but I was hopeful that one or two cells might go up, tap into the abundant shear, and begin rotating. I was also wary of giving up too soon and missing the storm of the day, having done that during previous chases!

When it became glaringly obvious that all the severe action was focused on far southwestern VA, eastern TN, and northwestern NC (places I choose not to chase) with NOTHING likely to occur in my chase region I finally gave up and returned home just before sunset. The best thing about the entire day was that I was able to eat dinner with my son and his family. Time with kids and grandkids is always well-spent!!

Deutschland Downtown

Author: David From • Jul 28th, 2014
   Category: Blog Entries.Local
Downtown Fredericksburg that is. Deutschland Downtown is a soon-to-be-opened German restaurant in Old Town Fredericksburg. Even before they open, there's a strong local following as the proprietors have been running a mobile food cart, serving German fare locally for some time now. In fact, we've been anticipating the opening of this bier garden and restaurant for a couple years.

The past two weekends, Deutschland Downtown has been hosting a "soft opening," announced via their Facebook page, in order to help train the staff. On Saturday evening, Colleen and I eagerly stopped in. There was a crowd in the dining room when we arrived, and we took one of the last available tables. They were serving a limited menu, and also had three beers on draft. There was some wine listed too, but I paid it no mind.

The beer selection this evening included two imported German beers, Warsteiner Premium Verum, König Ludwig Weiss, and an American, but German-founded beer, Yuengling Lager. I started off with the Warsteiner, a German Pilsner, served in a proper, brewery labeled, Pilsner glass. A classic Pilsner, the light bodied beer had a mildly sweet, biscuity malt with a sharp, crisp and clean hop finish. It went down easily. With my meal I tried the König Ludwig Weiss. This beer was also served in a proper Hefeweizen glass, complete with the brewery logo. The aroma is banana and wheat, with a hint of citrus. The taste is a delightful balance of sweet honey, banana, and clove backed by a yeasty malt. The mouthfeel is creamy with a dry finish. I enjoyed this one quite a bit. I opted to skip the Yuengling.

For our meal, Colleen selected Wiener Schnitzel, served with Sauerkraut and Spätzle. I went with the Currywurst, which was served with Sauerkraut. I didn't try anything off of Colleen's plate, but she was very impressed with her selection. She declared each dish "very good" repeatedly and was very impressed with the Schnitzel. I heard raves about the Schnitzel on the drive home, and regretted not stealing a bite. My sausage was very tasty, although it was missing the spicy ketchup-based sauce described in the menu. The crispy Sauerkraut was well done; not overly bitter, and mixed with tiny bits of sausage. I would have liked a side of Spätzle or perhaps German Potato Salad, to go along with the meal, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

We also opted for a dessert of Apple Strudel, mine topped with a vanilla sauce, while Colleen had hers with hazelnut ice cream. Both provided a deliciously sweet finish to the meal.

We had a very enjoyable evening, doing our part to help the restaurant prepare for its opening. They have a few kinks, as expected, to work out in the service, but nothing that greatly detracted from our pre-opening dinner. The food was all quite tasty, and we're very much looking forward to experiencing the full menu. Hopefully, they will expand the German beers menu too. I predict Deutschland Downtown will be a popular addition to the Fredericksburg dining scene. And I expect I'll be raising a Maß or two in the outdoor biergarten soon.

Good news! According to a Sunday evening posting on Facebook, Deutschland Downtown will be open for business on Thursday of this week.

Looks like a springtime setup

Author: Chris White From • Jul 26th, 2014
   Category: Blog Entries.Local
The strong cold front and upper level support that is at the leading edge of some very cool air for late July will first bring severe weather to the Mid-Atlantic. A possible (probable?) Mesoscale Convective System will cross West Virginia early tomorrow morning. That plus the conditions behind the MCS has prompted the Storm Prediction Center to issue a rare Day 2 Moderate Risk for our western neighbors. Meanwhile it seems that after this morning mayhem - which hopefully will expend most of its energy on crossing the Appalachians - the atmosphere will sufficiently recover to again fire up strong to severe storms over much of Virginia. In fact here's this morning's (12Z) NAM depiction of the significant tornado parameter for 8 pm Sunday:
This jives with the forecast for instability and deep layer shear over much of the Old Dominion and is more representative of a springlike setup than late July.

Timing and MCS strength is key here. If the complex comes thru earlier Sunday morning and/or weaker than current thinking the setup east of the mountains will spawn storms (and likely discrete supercells) by late afternoon. If said complex is later/stronger than thought the atmospheric recovery will be delayed and the second phase of storms will occur near nightfall. Either way I will be out chasing even after dark tomorrow if the storms warrant. (In other words if there are discrete supercells over chaseable territory I'm not letting a little thing like darkness stop me!)

A Well-Stocked Beer Fridge

Author: David From • Jul 26th, 2014
   Category: Blog Entries.Local
After our trip to the range the other day, it was time to enjoy some good beer while a delicious dinner was prepared by Colleen. Our beer fridge is kept well-stocked with a variety of beers, which doesn't make the decision any easier. It's a long-running joke here that goes something like this:
"What do you want to drink?"
"What do you have?"
"We have everything."
The "we have everything" line is a reference to hearing a waitress make the claim despite having only a full "factory beer" menu, which set up the challenge for me to prove her wrong.

"Checkered Flag" is a Hefeweizen fan, so I offered him a Gordon Biersch Hefeweizen that I knew I had in the fridge. I got Colleen's order, Heavy Seas Red Sky at Night, and headed for the basement. After the folks upstairs heard me digging through bottles for a long time, they asked "What can't you find?" "The Gordon Biersch," I replied. As I climbed the stairs, I was ribbed that apparently I didn't have everything. True, I didn't have the Gordon Biersch Hefeweizen, but I went one better, and brought up Ayinger Bräu-Weisse, an authentic German Hefeweizen. I countered the retorts with "No, but I can still fill your style request."

Yes, I know that's not the "proper" glass.

This bottle of Ayinger Bräu-Weisse from Brauerei Aying in Germany was a gift from a non-beer drinking friend. I'd actually been saving it to share with "Checkered Flag" since I knew he'd enjoy it. And enjoy it he did. Colleen and I both stole a small portion of the bottle as well. Pouring with a thick head over a cloudy body, the beer has the aroma of spice and wheat. A "thick" wheat and yeast base is suffused with banana, clove, and mild peppery spice. This is an excellent Hefeweizen. In fact, Colleen subsequently declared that we should keep this one on hand all the time. I guess I'll go beer shopping this weekend.

If it ain’t raining…

Author: David From • Jul 25th, 2014
   Category: Blog Entries.Local
After a month away from the practice range, I finally made it back this week. Adding to the fun, I was joined by Colleen and "Checkered Flag." I realized it had been two months since we'd all been to the range together. We had made plans to go after work a week ago, but when the time arrived, so had the rain. In fact at times the rain was best described as a "deluge." We loaded up the car anyway and headed over, "We'll see what happens when we get there." We're seldom dissuaded by weather, although this winter the range began closing when it snowed, much to our disappointment.

Since it was raining, I grabbed some well-used USPSA cardboard targets. I figured they'd get trashed and we'd just throw them away afterwards, though not in the range trash cans. Sure enough, the targets we're soon drooping over from the water. At one point, the tops of the targets fell over so far I was making head shots into the back of the target. I also had some Shoot-N-C Targets in my range gear box, a Christmas gift from my son, and we made use of those to help see our hits.

Since my usual range and match gun was in the shop it was a good time to get in some good practice with my carry gun. I shoot it occasionally at the range, but not a lot. On this day I got 150 rounds through it. I worked on shooting on the move, shooting strong hand and weak hand only, also on the move, in the 5-7 yard range.

I even got in some "bad breath distance" practice, getting fast, point shooting hits while transitioning to a two hand grip and moving "off the X." This is something I think most folks, myself included, fail to practice regularly. Yet, it is probably the most likely scenario in a self-defense situation. Also, if you've never shot your weapon at a point blank target, you will be shocked at the difference in what you hear and feel from the percussion off the target. I suspect many folks will also be surprised that getting a rapid draw, and good hits, while moving requires practice — practice that's best done before your life depends on it.

It was a very rewarding practice session. The rain, combined with my aching muscles from taking a tumble down the stairs the day before, helped keep it "real." On top of that, it was simply fun to get back out with Colleen and a friend for some range time. I also remembered how much I enjoy shooting that SIG Sauer P239. Often when I write these range journal posts, they conclude with my leaving the range just as the foul weather is moving in. This time it was different; as we finished and began cleaning up to leave, the rain stopped and the sun began peeking through. However, in keeping with tradition, we arrived at home to relax with some craft beer before dinner.