Archives for the ‘Blog Entries.Local’ Category

When Is a Cube Not a Cube?

Author: David From • Apr 23rd, 2014
   Category: Blog Entries.Local
When it's an ice "cube" produced by Suntory Whisky. The Japanese whisky maker is running a campaign featuring what are billed as 3D Printed Ice Cubes.

While the computer engineered ice is certainly attractive, I'm not sure how practical it really ice for chilling your whiskey. But, hey, it's advertising!

Aren't ice cubes 3D by definition?

Earth Day chase

Author: Chris White From • Apr 22nd, 2014
   Category: Blog Entries.Local
I suppose it was fitting to storm chase on Earth Day even if the setup wasn't conducive to seeing much. A cold front crossing the mountains created a lee trough that fired up some cells that didn't amount to anything given a paucity of moisture (DP's only near 50).  However this was a great opportunity to shake out the equipment and streaming setup before any serious weather arrived.

I rolled eastward first to Burnt Chimney to assess the situation and found myself underneath a developing convective line. Continuing eastward to Gretna I rechecked radar and visually scanned the western horizon before deciding to drop south to Chatham. A reasonably developed storm was headed in that direction and I stopped on Rte 57 east of town to watch, live stream, and take a photo or two:

As I awaited the approach of this storm I noticed on radar a couple of discrete cells west of this line segment and a bit further south. I thus motored east to the other side of the White Oak Mountain ridgeline to stay ahead of the rain and then dove south. I wound up at a truck stop / warehouse complex on Rte 29 just north of Blairs and stopped to live stream again, this time communicating via text and voice with WDBJ's Robin Reed. The live stream quality was good but there really wasn't much to see:

I finished the chase by verifying some strong outflow winds south of Danville that actually showed on radar. After these cells swept on by I had a dry trip homeward.

Adventure Brewing Opens May 15

Author: David From • Apr 22nd, 2014
   Category: Blog Entries.Local
Fredericksburg's third craft brewery, Adventure Brewing, will open Thursday, May 15. Brewers Tim Bornholtz, Stan Johnson and John Viarella have been hard at work doing construction on the brewery and developing their beers. The Adventure Brewing website describes their vision:
As a micro-brewery, Adventure Brewing Company is primarily focused on bringing full flavored beers to the local area. Initial plans are to produce around 1,000 barrels (about 30,000 gallons) per year. Adventure Brewing's initial lineup of beers will include four year round styles and a number of seasonal or special batches. The year round styles include an IPA, a Pale Ale, a Wheat and a Stout. Specialty and seasonal batches such as Double IPA, Pumpkin Beer, Smoked Ale, Christmas lager and others will, of course, invite more adventurous tastes. We plan to serve samples and full beers in the tasting room as well as fill growlers (64 oz bottles) to take home. We are also working with distributors to ensure our beer is available at many local restaurants.

The brewery's opening schedules will be Thursday, May 15 from 6pm - 10pm; Friday, May 16 fem 6pm - 10pm; Saturday, May 17 - from 12pm - 10pm; and Sunday, May 18 from 12pm - 6pm.

The Free Lance-Star recently made an informative report on the brewery.

Couple chase chances this week

Author: Chris White From • Apr 21st, 2014
   Category: Blog Entries.Local
I use "chase" very loosely with respect to tomorrow when a cold front pushes across the Old Dominion. GFS and NAM still disagree a bit on timing as well as the amount of instability so I'm not expecting a lot. It will be a chance to iron out a few more wrinkles in this year's chase gear, including a live stream via Severe Studios. (I'll only have the live stream up if there is something worth seeing...not a fan of watching someone's feed while they drive down a highway.) Looks like tomorrow morning will involve poring over the short range models for timing and target location.

Friday, however, could be a different story but there are still a number of model runs to go (this morning's 12Z GFS is a bit more pessimistic than earlier solutions). It's that time of year when it's prudent to keep an eye on the models as the week progresses so as to not miss a chase opportunity!

That Day I Set Foot In The Oval Office

Author: Chris From • Apr 20th, 2014
   Category: Blog Entries.Local

I know a guy that knows a woman that works in the White House, and she generously gave up a Saturday afternoon to take us on a tour of the West Wing. The West Wing tour is not a public tour, the only way you get to do it is to be a big time donor, celebrity, or know somebody that works in the White House. Clearly, I'm in that last category. It starts with a background check several weeks in advance. Security to enter the White House is actually less of a PITA than the airport. At no time did I have to remove my belt and shoes, and my wife's insulin pump, which always causes all kinds of drama at the airport, was a complete non-issue. I think that mostly speaks to the difference between hourly TSA agents and uniformed Secret Service agents.

My wife at the Big Red One memorial just outside the White House visitor's entrance.
Michelle at the Big Red One memorial.20140419_163819

Main entrance to the West Wing
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Me in the mud room / entrance hall to the West Wing. No pictures allowed beyond this point.
West Wing mud room / entrance area, and last place I could take pictures inside.20140419_170744

The walls inside are lined with poster sized photos that depict the day-to-day life of the President. My favorite was probably the selfie with President Obama, Bill Nye, and Neil deGrasse Tyson. Also on the wall was the original bell from the USS Constitution. We were at the door to the Situation Room at this point and somebody walked into that room, giving us a quick glimpse inside as the door closed. We also got to hang out in the Rose Garden for a few minutes, which was interesting in that it was completely devoid of roses. It's a little early for roses to be blooming in DC, but I didn't even see any roses bushes. The tulips were in full bloom, and gorgeous though. The Oval Office was also open and empty, so we got to look in from the door, where technically part of my foot crossed the threshold, thereby giving me the title to this blog post. I don't want to criticize the decorating, so let's just say I really hope that coffee table in the Oval Office is a family heirloom. The Oval Office is also much smaller than it appears on TV. We also got to look into the Roosevelt Room, where we could see Teddy's Medal of Honor, and Franklin's Nobel Peace Price, and the Cabinet Room, complete with cell phone caddy outside the door. No cell phones allowed in Cabinet meetings. That was pretty much it for inside the West Wing, so we stepped outside.

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While we were out there we saw a shift change or something among the rooftop snipers, and two of them walked right by us. Those are some bad-ass looking dudes. They looked like they had body armor under under their uniforms, and the very large bags slung across their backs probably didn't have a change of clothes in them. A minute later another sniper came from the opposite direction, headed to the roof with take out from the White House mess. His rifle was just slung across his chest, and it was a little intimidating. After that we hung out in the White House Press Room for a few minutes. It's about 5X smaller than it looks on TV.

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Selfie in the press room.
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We ended the day with an expensive, but very good, dinner at Old Ebbit Grill.

More pictures

Previously - bowling at the White House.

Triumph Over Evil

Author: David From • Apr 20th, 2014
   Category: Blog Entries.Local
AND in the end of the sabbath, when it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalen and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre. And behold there was a great earthquake. For an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and coming, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. And his countenance was as lightning, and his raiment as snow. And for fear of him, the guards were struck with terror, and became as dead men. And the angel answering, said to the women: Fear not you; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he is risen, as he said. Come, and see the place where the Lord was laid. And going quickly, tell ye his disciples that he is risen: and behold he will go before you into Galilee; there you shall see him. Lo, I have foretold it to you. And they went out quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy, running to tell his disciples. And behold Jesus met them, saying: All hail. But they came up and took hold of his feet, and adored him. Then Jesus said to them: Fear not. Go, tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, there they shall see me. --Matthew 28:1-10

It's Easter. This is the fulfillment of Our Lord's promise of eternal life. It is the ultimate triumph over evil. We are reminded that our struggles are not for nought, that our final reward is eternal. The evil one refuses to give up. He knows that if we give in to despair we won't experience the promise of the Resurrection. He fears that we might reject his tricks and lies. He hungers for us to join him in his eternal torment. With his continual attacks on our faith, attacks on our freedoms, attacks on the sanctity of life, he continues in a battle that he's already lost.

So on this most glorious of days, we are reminded that we must continue to face oppression and persecution head on. Satan is hard at work in this world. His minions do his bidding willingly, if naively, deceiving with false promises, twisting the truth until evil passes for good. We are led to believe that evil doesn't exist, and that material happiness outweighs the value of human life. Government fiat replaces personal responsibility. We are tempted to live like there's no tomorrow. But today, the empty tomb reminds us otherwise. The promise of Easter gives us the strength to persevere.

Here's wishing you a blessed and joy-filled Easter. May the joy of the Resurrection remain in your life all year long.

Jesus' final resting place, in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem
Photo by C. Turley, 2010

Introducing a Friend to Practical Pistol

Author: David From • Apr 19th, 2014
   Category: Blog Entries.Local
The first match of the year at the Cedar Mountain Youths range was this morning. The group has changed the format somewhat from previous years; the round count is low, there is little movement, and no steel. At first glance, an avid USPSA shooter might think "What's the point?" But giving it more thought, there's an excellent point; it's a good practice match, and also a great way to introduce new shooters to the sport.

To that end, I invited a friend to come out and try his first practical pistol match. Greg has been shooting for a little over a year, with much enjoyment, so I knew he would have a good time. We spent the 30 minute ride to the match going over some rules and procedures. For myself, besides having the pleasure of introducing a friend to the sport, I was looking forward to getting in a little practice. And, of course, just shooting. And what better way to mark Patriot's Day?

The match consisted of 6 stages, all shot Virginia Count, meaning no makeup shots. The first stage was a "Bill Drill" of six shots on the target as fast as you can. The next stage we shot had three staggered targets, each requiring three shots, two to the body and one to the head, with a mandatory reload somewhere during the string. I felt like my first shot was slow, but it was all A's in a nice group.

The next stage had a single target, with three shooting boxes in a straight line perpendicular to the berm. The stage description called for putting two shots on the target from each box, moving toward the target. I ran this one way too fast, and although all the hits were on target, they weren't all A's. We had some time waiting for the other squad to finish so some of us ran the stage again for fun. I did better the second, and realized that I was not slowing my forward momentum enough to get off accurate shots. This is a stage I can easily replicate at my local range to practice that a bit more.

The fourth stage we shot had three shooting boxes and three targets, and a twist. The idea was to put one shot on each target, and repeat from each of the boxes. The targets were widely spaced requiring a wide swing to hit all three. Next up was an unloaded gun start, with the gun and first mag on a table. On the start, pick up and load the gun and put 6 shots on one target, perform a mandatory reload and put 6 shots on the second target. For the final challenge, there were six targets in a wide, staggered array, ranging from 6 feet to 20 yards distant. Putting the required on shot on each target required constantly adjusting speed and focus.

The stages all basic shooting skills to the test, which is the idea behind the match. It's a great place to come out and get some practice with your carry weapon if you so desire, or have a chance to perhaps run a little too fast and test your limits —all without the pressure of a scored match or risking a low score on a classifier. We even had the opportunity to run a couple of the stages more than once. Future matches will provide for an hour or so after finishing for folks to practice even more.

It was a fast match, 48 rounds total. When I got back into my car, the coffee in my thermal mug was still lukewarm and we were on the road home by 11:00PM. This quick match was perfect for a busy Easter weekend. As for Greg, I dare say he had a great time, and he shot well too. I suspect I'll get him to a full USPSA match soon. On the ride home we were discussing other friends we could invite to come out to Cedar Mountain for an introduction to practical shooting.

Cedar Mountain practice matches will be held going forward on the second Saturday of the month, which, conveniently, doesn't conflict with local USPSA matches. I'll use them for practice, or perhaps to run some rounds through my carry gun. I'm also looking forward to bringing out more new shooters and getting them hooked. We'll have our Gabriel Possenti Shooters team before long!

Reprise of an April 2005 chase

Author: Chris White From • Apr 19th, 2014
   Category: Blog Entries.Local
    Given that SDS is rampant this month while awaiting the spring severe season to kick off I thought I'd repost this northern Virginia chase account from 2005:

                                                              April 2 2005 Hailstorms

     April chasing opened with a bang on the second day of the month when the Storm Prediction Center outlooked eastern Virginia for a slight risk of severe storms anda 5% tornado probability, a significant figure of merit for the Mid-Atlantic. The first action of the day was focused on a warm front lifting northward as I chased east of Fredericksburg during the late morning, catching only a glimpse of a small shelf cloud. After lunch I rendezvoused with my son in Thornburg where we parked his car and consolidated our gear into mine. From there we rolled west and then south on Virginia Route 208 underneath a low overcast, hoping that an approaching upper level pool of cold air would provide the impetus for some strong updrafts.

     We covered only five miles of two lane macadam before breaking into brilliant sunshine, immediately glimpsing hard-knuckled convection boiling up to the south in response to the aforementioned cold pool. Our interception course led us across Lake Anna into Louisa county, and somewhere south of the metropolis of Mineral we gloried in our first pea-sized hailfall of the day. Continuing east and then south to stay with the most active cells we enthusiastically enjoyed three more hailfalls, one of which occurred with the sun shining and thus enabling the following cool photo:
Photo by Nathan White

     In an attempt to keep up with the best convection we looped through the town of Louisa while tracking a feature that appeared at first to be a ragged wall cloud but was really another shelf cloud from an outflow-dominant storm. Not having mobile internet and thus without radar access we then miscalculated the convective line’s movement, thinking it was headed due north when it was quickly steaming northeastward. As a result we wound up out of position to catch up with a very interesting lowering at the back of the southernmost cell. However, we were afforded a great view of the overall storm structure and witnessed multiple rainbows while thoroughly enjoying ourselves.
Photo by Nathan White

     The 5% tornado probability didn't verify for us as we saw no funnels and heard no tornado reports but we really didn't care. This early April chase proved to be one of the bright spots of an otherwise abysmal 2005 Virginia chase season. Serendipities come when they come!

Equity Report – The Latest Statistics

Author: jedmisten From • Apr 18th, 2014
   Category: Blog Entries.Local, RealEstate.Local

Equity infographic

It is a “Good Friday”

Author: David From • Apr 18th, 2014
   Category: Blog Entries.Local