Sunday, May 31, 2015

Movie Time - ZOMBIE Style

Nerf is fun.  So when my neighbor wanted to shoot "Zombies" in the back yard with me, we kept it that way.  Grab a sharpie, draw some faces on wood targets, gear up, and GO!

It's just pure fun taking pot shots and playing along with his storyline, so I had a blast making mince-meat out of our Undead Volunteers with darts, MEGAs, Rockets, and even a Chainsaw for a few hours in the backyard.  He was excited to see how the footage came out, so I made a Movie out of it so he can show his friends and family.

Here's the results of our crazy adventure!

Season 10 Schedule Tweaks

Three weeks into our group's 10th Season of outdoor laser tag games and there's already been a LOT of changes!  Let me explain what has transpired since the start of the weekly games this year.

So our first game, the big season opener, sort of got rescheduled.  Even if it hadn't been pouring rain all day, we would've cancelled the event as my mother-in-law had just passed away and the wake was scheduled for that Friday.  Many of our veteran players attended the services, so there wasn't an option of having someone else run the event.  We bumped that game up to the next week to try things again.

I use Facebook to plan events and get the word out (because keeping track of over 100 potential players is a pain).  It looked like we were only going to get 15-20 people at the game according to the RSVPs shown.  Much to my surprise (and delight) over 30 people showed up in force for a FANTASTIC Season Opener!  I put together some footage taken from the games, too.

Then, the next week, it decided to pour buckets about 5 minutes before the games were supposed to start.  Omaha is known for having rogue storms pop up out of nowhere and dump rain during the late spring and early summer months, so it really wasn't that surprising.  We managed to still have a few games and have a good time with my birthday buddy.

Now the schedule for Season 10 is a little screwed up, but I've got it mostly sorted out.  There's rain in the forecast again for next week but I actually think a second rained-out game would help since it would put or original schedule back on track!  Odd as that may seem, I am also out-of-town next week and have my veterans running the games.  Not to say that I don't want them to have a game... but I really do hate missing out on a good time!  Haha

Birthday Ambush!

Earlier this month I mentioned how I've managed to keep my chin up because of my supportive friends.  Well today, one of those friends of mine had a birthday.  We decided to celebrate with the highest honor known to Nerf: a 21-Dart Salute... at him.

I suppose we've been through worse.  Heck, the first time I ever saw a rocket fired from a LTTO Tag Master Blaster was when he shot it point-blank into my gut.  From graduations to grad-school hell, from bad breakups to losing your glasses in the woods after finding a low branch, it's been a ton of fun tackling the good and the bad with this fella.  I'll always have his back because I KNOW he'll always have mine.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Season 10 Begins!

10 Seasons.  That's how long we've been at this.  Every summer since 2006 the Midwest Laser Tag Association (previously the Omaha Laser Challenge Association) has held weekly outdoor laser tag games free of charge to anyone who wants to play.  It's hard to believe that we're in the double-digits now, with Season 10 marking quite the milestone.  There aren't many groups like ours around, but there also aren't many groups that have been doing this for such a long time, either.

Last week's opening game for the start of this season was quite the reminder of the changes that have happened over the years.  The veteran players that helped me start this were in college or high school at the time.  Now we're all graduated, working full-time jobs, and homeowners.  Some of us have managed to get married (myself included) and our spouses are now hunting us down at games.  The parks have seen change, too.  Trees have grown and fallen, creeks have shifted, paths have been forged or abandoned, they're not the same ones we started playing at in 2006.  Someone even noted that the food at our cookouts has changed, from "my mom gave me a 8-pack of hot dogs with a 6-pack of buns" to a full-on gourmet spread of food, drinks, and desserts.

While tactics, equipment, and play-styles have changed and evolved, it's still the same idea.  Show up, grab some gear, play some laser tag.  And people seem to like it!  Though the attendance per game has stopped growing, averaging between 20 and 30 players has been more than acceptable turnout.  We still have a handful of veteran players that have stuck through these over the years.  Some of them started off as newbies 5 or 6 years ago but have come to be trusted allies in their experience.  They bring their friends, who bring their friends, who bring their uncles cousins nephews former roommates, and it can easily become a game of 7 Degrees of Separation.  It's been good for the continuation of what we do.

All the while, my own personal goal of promoting laser tag more has been achieved on a local level, but still not nearly as much as I would like to see abroad.  That's why, as we celebrate 10 Summers of laser tag here in Omaha, I'm going to focus more on promoting others around the country (or even around the world) to take up the game that brings our friends together here.  And, since I know how much the Internet likes to read these days, much of that promotion will come in the form of new videos (like this one) that I'll be making to show people the fun we have with this game.  We'll still have our mods and equipment enhancements this year, but I'd rather get more people outside of our city hooked on laser tag like we are.

That's my mission for Season 10.  If you'd like to help, just share what we're up to, or let me know what you've been doing with laser tag!  Either way, let's get things started!

Monday, May 25, 2015

A Long Week

I felt a bit of an update was due since there's been a lot going on.  I would first like to thank everyone who sent prayers and thoughts to my family as my mother-in-law passed away.  She is in a better place now and the outpouring of support from everyone has been comforting.  It has not been easy, but this would be harder without those who have helped.

Second, I am proud to annouce that Season 10 of the Midwest Laser Tag Association has successfully kicked off.  I've got lots of photos and such I'll be sorting through and giving updates on that.  There's also some video that was taken at the event to put a promotional video together that should help us promote our group.  30 players showed up in force to have a cookout and play some laser tag together and it was a LOT of fun!  New and old faces combined for some great games and I'm really looking forward to what the rest of the season has in store for us.

Third, I have a bit of a backlog of material to release before the Month of May is up, so there will be a nice spike in activity here before we go head-first into June.  2015 has been flying by, but there's still more plans for Tactical Tag with Nerf and Laser Tag.  Stay Tuned!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

SBNC: Nerf Hacks & Pro Tips

The secret is out.  SBNC is pretty awesome.  So when the most Southern of all Brisbaned Nerfer Clubbers asked if I wanted to collaborate on a new project he was putting together alongside other great foam-dart-blasting gurus, who could say no?

Check out these awesome Nerf Hacks & Pro Tips from the likes of Bobololo, Psyk, RandomShadow09, that Bazooka Field guy, and a whole slew of other internet-famous guys.

I have also graciously added a video of the bit that I submitted so that, if you want to skip to the "good stuff".  It's pretty flippin sweet.  Video is after the jump because PAGEVIEWS!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

With a little help from our friends

I've learned a lot in the last month or so about this silly idea of "growing up" and what most of American Society expects of that.  I've also learned that life gets busier with each passing day and that usually means "less play time", so the notion that we give up our hobbies and childish ways is usually an easy sell.  I'm 29, have bills for a house, a car, all the insurance and operating costs that go with those, a second car that I own and work on, and am happily married.  I've got a full-time job that can be a little demanding on time, but nothing unmanageable.  My wife works, but has been putting in part-time hours recently as she helps with her mom's health issues.  So naturally, I'd fall into this case of "oh well he just needs to grow up" when it comes to doing stuff like Nerf and Laser Tag.

My free time slips away from me pretty easily and, as this blog has recently reflected in it's activity, so has my time for my hobbies.  I know there's plenty of other guys in my position and many times, when things get busy and "life" calls them, most assume that it's time to give up the fun and "grow up".  Rightfully so.  There's already the expectation people have that associates Nerf and Laser Tag with children and, as such, anyone older who is still enjoying these hobbies is simply acting childish.  I'm happy to report that this kind of surrender won't work for me... and here's the simple reason why.  I've got great friends.

Now this isn't to say that those who give up their hobbies don't have friends, but rather that the bond my buddies and I share has been forged through working, playing, and enjoying these hobbies together.  It's something that I overlooked before, mostly because I just felt like that everyone eventually gives up doing the things they love.  However, even when I had thought about giving up, it's my friends that have kept my heart in it.  When I've got a full load of stuff to work on, my buddy is sending me a text about the next Laser Tag game that he's running.  When I haven't been able to get to the workbench in ages, a friend messages me with photos of Booster Boards for IR LEDs that he's been developing.  When I get a call from a guy who moved away in January, he's telling me how he saw the video I made featuring the blaster that he built.  These guys are all my age and have pretty similar stuff going on in their lives.  They've got bills to pay, jobs to go to, and lots of other stuff to do.  They're also incredibly loyal, supportive, and genuinely interested in the stuff we've been doing together for ages.

I suppose it's no surprise.  Since June of 2006, we've been organizing weekly outdoor Laser Tag games together.  This summer will mark Season 10 of these events being held.  If it were a fad, it would've run out of gas by now and we'd be hanging up our blasters and doing that "growing up" thing.  Sure, people get genuinely burnt out on things.  Sure, there's situations where that spark is flat-out lost and you're not interested in it anymore.  What I'm getting at is this: don't give up on that stuff because of anyone's decision but your own.  In my case, I can't give up Nerf or Laser Tag because I'm still in this with my friends.  If it were me flying solo, yeah... it would probably have been done awhile ago.  I've written several times about how enjoying these hobbies should be a social event.  That's still true today, and it's THROUGH that interaction with people that I think I've been able to keep enjoying things.
We get by with a little help from our friends.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Publishing Woes

So there's been a lot going on recently in my family that has kept me busy.  In the moments I am able to enjoy my hobby and try to get some content going for the blog... I am faced with another issue: my dying Laptop.  This old Toshiba has been quite the warrior, as it has lasted me over half a decade and not seen the gentlest use!  It's been good to me, so I figured I'd just get another Toshiba to replace it.  However, I'm already tight on time as it is, so I thought I'd ask you guys for some advice on a good replacement for my tired titan of bloggitude before I pull the trigger on a new one.  I need to do this sooner than later so I can get things going again.

There are a few elements that I need to keep in order to continue what I already use it for.  For ease of use, the new laptop will need the following features:
  • At least 2 USB Ports
  • SD Card Port
  • CD/DVD Drive
  • Video Editing Software (mine has Windows Movie Maker)
  • At least 4GB of Memory (I have an External Hard Drive for the big stuff)
There's a lot of new stuff in the world of Laptops since I got mine.  Touch screens, tablet things, click-in keyboards, but I really just need something that's going to be reliable and last me a long time again.  I'm tentative to try out the new tech since it seems like the going trend is "Replace electronics every year because the newest next-best-thing is out!"... and I've never followed that mindset.  It's gotta last me, gotta get the job done.  

I plan on getting a new laptop this week and I'm loading up my external hard drive with anything I need off of this before it goes kaput.  Thanks in advance for any advice!