Saturday, May 31, 2014

Thrift Store Finds - Keep Looking

Earlier this week, I had the chance to go to one of my favorite places to look for great homesteading deals. the local Goodwill Store.

Although nothing is guaranteed, I have found some great deals on clothes, books, oil lamps and cast iron cookware.

On this recent visit, I came across a copy of The Boy Scout Handbook marked at $1.99. This book is a treasure trove of great information and I've been looking for a copy for a long time. Yes, I could go and buy it, but part of trying to live simply is coming up with less expensive ways to obtain the items that you need.

To make this even better, the book was tagged with a green price tag. For those that don't know, Goodwill  offers 1/2 price off every Wednesyday for items that are priced with their color of week.

This weeks color was green, which means that the book that I found for $1.99 was only .99!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Twelve Prepping Lessons Learned from Laser Tag

This week, I had the opportunity to accompany my daughter and her boyfriend to an end of the year sports party. Towards the end of the party as people were leaving, it was discovered that the party package included a game of laser tag. Since some of the people left the party, there was an extra ticket available. I was asked if I wanted to join the game, to which I said yes. This was going to be fun!

What followed was definitely a fun game, but it also taught me some lessons that pertain to prepping. They are, in no certain order, as follows:

Lesson #1 - I thought that I did A LOT better that I actually did. When the game was over and we piled back out of the maze into the room to divest ourselves of the equipment, I eagerly awaited the results of the match, waiting for my name to be called. "I think that I did pretty well, I thought to myself." When my daughter's boyfriend scored first place, I thought, "Well, I'm OK with that. I'm probably somewhere in the top three." When I got handed my scoresheet, my hopes were dashed. I came in 10th out of 12 people. Over all, I thought that I was 'shot' in some form or another about 5-7 times. I also thought that I had tagged other players roughly 75 times. The scorecard revealed the cruel reality that I was actually shot 20 times and tagged other players 40 times.

Lesson #2 - Some people will freak out. I cannot count the number of people that I surprised which then led them to scream, lower their gun or just stand there out of shock.

Lesson #3 - Some people will not care. There was one person in the game who almost seemed nonchalant about just slowly walking past people and tagging them. While this was dangerous for others, it was also dangerous for them to not pay attention.

Lesson #4 - People repeat the same mistakes. Going back to the same places where they were previously shot. For them, I just waited for their vests to re-energize and shoot them again when they came out. It wasn't that there was no where else to go. If your hit, the other team knows where you are. Go somewhere else to regroup.

Lesson #5 - You can't go it alone. My daughter and her boyfriend, both scored considerably higher than me. Thankfully we were on the same team during the game. I'd hate to think of what it would be like if they were on the other side. At the same time, it's good to know that in a real emergency, that I have them both on my team!

Lesson #6 - Things sneak up on you. Always try to be prepared ahead of time. When we got our passes for the game, it was a surprise to us. We were attending a party and playing laser tag was not something that we had planned on doing. I was wearing heavy boots with thick socks for the game. Man, what I wouldn't have given for my sneakers!

Lesson #7 - People will sell you out. Sometimes they are the officials or people in charge. There was numerous times during the game where, as a team, we would guide others to where the opposing team was. That is sort-of expected. What wasn't expected was when one of the people running the game walked by me and said "The 'Red' team is up in the front hallway." While I loved that bit of intel, had this been something other than laser tag and I was on the 'red' team, that would've spelled disaster. At the same time, thoughts ran through my head that if the official would rat out the other team to us, then they would probably do the same thing to us.

Lesson #8 - Events can last longer that expected. When we all entered the maze, we were told that games lasted about eight minutes. Ours lasted twenty. While I definitely enjoyed getting our money's worth, it it another variable to consider.

Lesson #9 - The odds may be worse than you think. When we were getting our equipment on, we didn't have a clue as to who was on what team. After they were activated, we learned that one team had 5 people while the other had 7. Not too bad for my team, but adds another dimension of difficulty if you are the 'Red' team. See Lesson #7

Lesson #10 - Training is everything. Yes, I had tactics that I used, but having not actually played laser tag for two years was a detriment for me. When we used to play paintball, laser tag or even target practice fairly regularly, I used to be pretty decent. Not training consistently is bad for your survival. On the other hand and to prove my point, my daughter's boyfriend, who plays with family members that are in the military faired very well. See Lesson #1. I'm sure that it also helped that he was 28 years younger than me.

Lesson #11 - Know your equipment. Having unfamiliar equipment equates to you being in trouble. My vest was flashing. Was this good or bad? I couldn't tell if that was due to a hit or from simply being activated. Being in the heat of a situation is no time to learn how stuff works.

Lesson #12 - Look at things from a different angle. There was a number of times during the game that people would be expecting me to come around a corner. Setting myself up to shoot through "windows" and from kneeling on one knee helped me better surprise the other players who were expecting a target to walk out from around a corner.

All-in-all it was a great time and is something that I would absolutely like to do again. It's a good way to help develop critical thinking skills and iron out some tactical issues before you have to use them in the real world. Even better, it was a great way to have fun with some of my family.