December 29, 2005

Is that a gun or are you just happy to see me post?

I had a chance to do something today that I've always wanted to do: Go to a shooting range. It was one of those things that I always knew I'd get around to eventually and, thanks to The Best Brother in the Whole Wide World, today was that day.

We went to Reed's, which I just learned when finding that link is the largest indoor range in the SF area. It was surprisingly low-key and, well...I guess the best word is normal; there was no "Soldier of Fortune" feel about it, which put me a lot more at ease, as did the guy behind the counter who looked more like someone I'd expect to be helping me at Micro Center than explaining how to load a revolver.

Anyone who knows me well might think that this was an odd thing for me to want to do because, as they have all seen, loud noises make me jump. A lot. And jump I did (especially since the only other guy on our side of the lanes when we started appeared to be firing a small cannon), but it was still fun. I ended up going back out to the counter to get a pair of earplugs to wear under my big, bulky ear cover thingies after the fourth jump and that helped.

I have a decent sense of aim, so it wasn't a terribly difficult thing to get the hang of doing. It was harder to remember all of the rules of the place -- rules that make sense and are absolutely necessary when dealing with items that could, you know, kill you or someone else -- but there were a lot of them. Judging by all the holes in the ceiling that were practically right overhead, a lot of people don't pay as much attention to those rules as I did! Once I had a grasp of the ettiquette, though, it was pretty much load, aim, fire and repeat. I gave the gun my brother had rented a whirl, which was a semi-automatic, but the recoil made my formerly broken shoulder ache a bit so I stuck with the .38 revolver they'd selected for me. It was fascinating to see the shells from his rounds go flying over his shoulder -- making me take a few more steps back behind the observation line -- and the flash from the barrels as they were fired by others, not to mention watching how people approached the whole process.

All in all, it was a very interesting experience and I'd definitely go back again. And probably on a Wednesday since that's "Lady's [sic] Night" and there's nothing I like more than a bargain, though I somehow doubt that I'll wear a dress when I go.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not running out tomorrow to join the NRA or get myself a gun or permit and I'm all in favor of the gun laws that are in place -- as a matter of fact I'm in favor of stronger ones. This was a very controlled environment that was about sport and (hopefully, eventually) skill, not violence or hunting or fear. If you want to know the truth, I looked at it like a slightly more expensive version of a bowling alley. You go, you rent the equipment and accoutrements, you rent a lane, you take aim and let it fly, you keep score (well, you can, I didn't), you laugh over your mistakes (like, I didn't really mean to put a hole in the ear of my target's silhouette), and when your time is up or you're tired you hand over your gear and your money, then you leave. Only there are no ugly shoes worn by hundreds of other people to give you the heebie-jeebies and no disco music.

December 24, 2005

A Christmas Eve Day's Nap

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas from me and Finn, in sunny and not-very-wintery California!

December 22, 2005

Completely apropos of nothing

I am no longer a Red Bull virgin. Before today I had never even tried the stuff, one of maybe a handful of people in the world at this point, I figure.

The reason is fairly simple: when it first came out, there was no clue what kind of beverage it was. The commercials just told you it "gives you wings" and that wasn't much to go on. Then there was the name. Red Bull. Right away I thought it was some kind of tomato-based drink. Think Clamato crossed with "Rocky Mountain Oysters" and you have a pretty good idea of where I was at. Not terribly appealing.

Time passed and I heard it was actually an "energy drink." Cherry-red Gatorade-like stuff with carbonation, maybe? Mmm, nah.

More time passed and I learned that it was being used as a mixer in alcoholic beverages, and what I was hearing didn't sound like new-millenium Bloody Marys, so I warmed up to the idea, but never got enthusiastic enough to do anything about it.

About four months ago, maybe more, after talking with a friend who had also never tried it, I bought a single can of the sugar-free variety because it was on sale and I was starting to get curious.

That can sat in my fridge, nearly forgotten, until today.

Why today? Because, after two weeks of 9- to 12-hour workdays, it seemed like a good idea. (Those same workdays are also a large part of why there has been no posting, btw.)

Did it give me wings? Not exactly. But I have to say, it tasted pretty good after the initial shock of tartness, it was refreshing, and it certainly wasn't a bad experience. Well, unless you were in the car hearing me sing along, full volume, with the all-Christmas-music station for the next half hour, that is.

Red Bull effect? Who knows, but it certainly helped chase away any lingering workday blues.

December 11, 2005

OPO's Gift Guide - CB2 Much Good Stuff

Less than two weeks to Christmas and you're still looking for that fun, unique gift? I may have found just the place for you, with no time to lose. Go take a look at CB2, which is a new online offshoot of Crate & Barrel. It has all kinds of cool stuff, and much of it the kind of stuff I love, at really decent prices. If you're looking for that "Where on earth did you find this?" gift without spending a fortune, go check it out; there's still time to get it to you before the holidays.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Snatch - a fast-paced, Scrabble-like game that comes in its own tube for easy storage and travel, and that is very reasonably priced. The idea is that you build on already placed words in order to "snatch" your opponent's points.

Aluminium sports car - Already bought your man scale replicas of all the cars he loves but will never own? Try this sleek number that he can have on his desk and not be pigeonholed by just one kind of machine. It's universal and equally unattainable, but fun to play with when he's on an interminable conference call.

The SAT words shower curtain - Want to make sure your high schooler is out of the house and off to college in a few years? Consider putting this little beauty under the tree and watch their IQ zoom! Everyone knows people have their best ideas in the shower -- now their best ideas can use multisyllabic words.

Point it picture dictionary - This one is for the clueless but persistent world traveller. Really want a cold beer but don't know what the Polish word is for "beer" and you're stuck in Krakow? Whip this little beauty out and point at a tall, frosty one until someone takes pity on you and points you to the nearest bar...then walks away muttering about crazy Americans.

By the way, Santa, if you're reading this, I'm sure you already know that all I really want for Christmas is my very own Uglydoll, right?

December 02, 2005

From The "Someone has too much time on their hands" File

It's a very holiday-oriented entry for The File, but I think you'll agree that this endeavor (or endeavour for any so-inclined spellers), while impressive, definitely belongs in the category. You may need a high-speed connection to get the full effect. It puts me in the mood to go out and do some light display peeping this weekend.