Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Relaxing Labor Day

It's hard to believe the summer is winding down, right?

Had a pretty laid back Labor Day weekend, nothing too exciting to talk about.

Had a chance to smoke of these guys on Sunday, very nice and very smooth.

Kristoff Cigar

That's a Kristoff Brittania Reserva stick - the corojo and criollo from them are decent too but this one kind of surprised me because it was incredibly mellow without being too boring.

Anyway, I've been really enjoying porch time of late with cigars just about every weekend. Because of it, I've had the chance to smoke a lot of really good and really bad cigars. If I run across an especially good one, I like to share them because there are so many bad ones out there!

Oh, and the Leinenkugel's Oktoberfest didn't hurt any either! :)

Monday, August 4, 2014

.308 Winchester vs. 7.62x51

This is pretty cool and a good look at an issue I know causes a lot of questions out there.

I have a rifle chambered in .308 and always just buy .308 Winchester but it sounds like I could have strayed and gotten into some 7.62x51mm if the price was right.

Thanks to BulkAmmo for look at .308 vs. 7.62x51mm ammo.

308 vs. 7.62x51

Monday, July 28, 2014

Staying Busy... Time to Relax With a Cigar Review

Things have been relatively hectic over the past few weeks.

Lots of work.

Bad weather in the area yesterday.

Civilian planes being shot of the sky, Israelis and Palestinians lobbing bombs...

Now seems as good of a time to sit on the front porch rocking chair and enjoy a cigar!

Cigar Review: Gurkha Beauty

Gurkha Cigar
Gurkha's Beauty - a pretty good smoke for the money.
I'm definitely not a cigar aficionado... at least not yet.

I often don't taste the creamy notes a lot of folks report when they talk about cigars.

The leather, oak, and other assortment wood flavors are often lost on me.

But I'm getting better at it.

This past weekend I had a chance to sit down and catch up on my reading while checking out the Gurkha Beauty cigar. Good stick, great packaging. I'm a sucker for Gurkhas branding, I admit it.

This cigar was a pretty large stick that took me about an hour from start to finish and I tend to take more drags than the average cigar smoker. I did struggle at first to get a nice even burn line with this cigar and early on, I didn't have a ton of smoke coming out of the cigar.

About 15 minutes in, things started to really get cooking. The cigar was medium-to-strong in my opinion. Frankly, I picked up more pepper than I expected.

At about the half hour point, the Misses brought out some vanilla ice cream. That, was fantastic paired with the cigar. The cool ice cream paired with the burn brought in with each puff was absolutely delightful.

As for breaking the cigar into thirds, I must admit the flavor profile didn't change a whole lot to my untrained palate. If you're a novice, like myself - I definitely would recommend this cigar. Although, if you're REALLY new to cigars, you might want to try something more mild.

Oh, and fun fact: You know the cigar that Bill Clinton used when he... umm... well with Monica Lewinsky. Yeah, it was a Gurkha. Ha!

Any suggestions for cigars I should try out? I'm hoping to make this a Saturday ritual. I won't write about them all the time but I found it was a nice way to draw down my Saturday evening.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Iraq Update

I can't stop thinking about it but I don't know what to think about the situation in Iraq right now.

Photo Courtesy: NBCNews.com
The photo above shows Iraqi soldiers led by this militant group ISIS to an open field where they were shot and killed, execution style.

In all, they're saying 1,700 Iraqi Shia air force recruits near Tikrit were the victims.

Disheartening? Yes.

Frustrating? Absolutely.

Now, it sounds like our nation may even consider working with Iran in hopes of saving Baghdad.

ISIS in Iraq
Photo Courtesy: The Guardian

It's really tough for me to separate the sacrifice of all the good folks our nation has already lost for their "freedom" and the concept of cutting our losses. 

If you have any thoughts that are well thought out, I'd love to hear them. Every time sometime pops up on the news now I really don't know what direction my mind wants to go. It's incredibly sad that the blood and sacrifice we've spilled into that nation have apparently been erased in less than a decade.

Friday, June 6, 2014

70th Anniversary of D-Day

General Dwight D. Eisenhower's message sent just prior to the invasion at Normandy 70 years ago today (June 6, 1944):

General Eisenhower speaking to troops during World War II.

"Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you.   
The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened, he will fight savagely.
But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man to man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our home fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to victory! 
I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory!
Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking."

Hard to imagine a world in which the allied forces didn't storm and win Normandy. Things could be a lot different --- a lot worse if not for their courage.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Credit to Obama Where It Is Due

I had a fairly introspective Memorial Day.

It was a quiet morning at a local cemetery followed by an afternoon with the family and some reading.

I've been thinking a lot about the military, imperialism, and the concept of building an empire. You might remember, I mentioned a couple posts back the "New Empire of Debt" book that I'm reading. It has led to a lot of reflection on the past couple decades as well as decisions made in my personal life about finances, investments, and the future.

The End of American Imperialism

Then, it kind of hit me as I was watching some coverage of President Obama visiting troops in Afghanistan.
President Obama in Afghanistan. Credit: NYTimes.com
During the "W" era and Bush presidency we did a lot of things as a nation that weren't exactly fiscally responsible. We started a war on a unknown enemy that can't be quantitatively described or defined: terrorism.

Our country spent billions to send troops to police the world. And by "spent", I of course mean "borrowed".

Actually, the cost of Iraq and Afghan operations cumulatively is about $1.5 trillion.

But you knew all this.

Here's what kind of struck me the more I thought about the issues involved: So far, Barack Obama hasn't given into the temptress that is imperialism.

Source: Associated Press
Despite political pressure, we really didn't do much in Syria --- at least not to our previously set standards. We didn't put our men and women's lives on the line there and we didn't sacrifice nearly as much treasure.

Ukrainian troops in an airborne combat vehicle. Source: RT.com
Russia/Ukraine is a similar situation. You had political pressure from all over telling the President it was time to jump in, take more authoritative action and ramp up the military presence in the Ukraine.

He didn't.

Now, Putin has backed off with the Russian military backpeddling toward the motherland.

There is now new Ukrainian president.

While things aren't back to "normal", there is certainly a good chance at sustainable peace.

I'm not saying that President Obama hasn't spent the money other places. Health-care, unemployment benefits, etc. are bills that we're going to be saddled with as entitlements mount. I'm not attempting to paint Obama as the great "budget-balancer".

4 More Years of George W. Bush?

But while I rip Obama for the economy and other doomed policies, on the foreign policy front he has been able to resist the temptation that most of his predecessors as POTUS were not.

In fact, it seems a vote for McCain back in 2008 would have led to a little different result. Unless the Arizona Senator is just playing a role and party-puppet in his questioning a president of the other party.

Courtesy: CBS News
McCain says we should have gotten involved in Syria.

McCain says we should be more involved in Russia.

It seems in some ways, the election of John McCain absolutely would have been like another 4-years of George W. Bush --- at least on the foreign policy side.

That's not to say Russia isn't still a threat and that military action may at some point be unavoidable but as of today, it sure doesn't seem that escalation is in the cards for that part of the world.

So, credit to Obama for resisting the urge to grow the empire, spend the money, and drop the bombs at a time when we really don't need the casualties, bill, or distractions.

That's worth something, right?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Enjoy Your Memorial Day Everyone

Thank you for your sacrifice in the name of freedom veterans.