Fun and Games

While most people think of me as a mere computer geek, the truth is that my obsession with the less popular aspects of general amusement span the entire technological spectrum. I can entertain myself for indefinite amounts of time with the time honored tradition of poking at things with a stick. At the other extreme, anything that is shiny, contains a variety of colors, and makes funny sounds also captures my attention. This, of course, explains my life long obsession with Elton John.

I visit some of my friends on a regular basis and we will often times get together for an evening of Empire Builder– our favorite railroad board game. (It’s OK, Rail Baron– we love you too) The general idea is to build a network of railroad tracks across the board with different color crayons to connect various cities on the map. Once you have built up enough track, you earn money by acquiring and delivering different types of cargo (oil, wheat, steel, and so on) to different cities along your network of train tracks. A lot of things seem more amusing when it’s three in the morning and you have been drinking caffeinated beverages continuously for the past seven hours while staring at a bunch of crayon marks on a map of the United States. Having said that, our favorite type of cargo is oats because we get to use the phrase, “Hey everyone, I’m haulin’ oats”.

I thoroughly enjoy playing Empire Builder despite the fact I hardly ever win. I suspect my problem is I derive too much pleasure from building tracks just to get in the way of everyone else. They say that defense wins championships, but I suspect that particular philosophy is more applicable in the NFL. Another problem I have involves bringing out my anger from past experiences. I have a deep psychological need to build tracks into Pittsburgh after an embarrassing tactical error on my part in a previous game that allowed Brian to take control of the city. In the long run it didn’t really matter-there are more than two dozen cities on the map. I felt as though I let the city down in its moment of need. Kind of like when I was five and my mom would leave me in the checkout line at the store to pick up something she forgot to put in the cart and I had visions of the checkout guy taking me off to jail when they realized I didn’t have any money to pay for the groceries.

On the more “high tech” side of social activities, my friends and I are really into playing Laser Tag. I know that most people associate it with a bunch of sixteen year olds running around with nothing better to do on a Saturday night. While that described us rather accurately when we first discovered the game, it’s now ten years later; we drive better cars and have a more lenient curfew. The part about having better things to do on a Saturday night is really a matter of perspective. I enjoy playing Laser Tag more than I like taking part in excessive alcohol consumption while having to deal with abrupt changes in the directional flow of my upper digestive track.

While Laser Tag is a physical game that involves running around a large maze, one of the keys to getting a high score involves employing a good strategy. Running around like a chicken with its head cut off is generally not the best way to go. Following basic rules like, “Don’t stand in the same place if you are getting hit every five seconds” and, “You can’t sneak up on people very well if you are yelling at one of your friends twenty feet away” can dramatically increase your score. Despite the use of the word “laser” in the name of the game, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to be a decent player. I’ve seen quite a few thirteen year olds girls with neon color hair and various metal objects in their nose get impressive rankings once the scores were tallied. Being skilled at Laser Tag and longing for various members of N’SYNC do not seem to be mutually exclusive.

Now you know insofar as can be described in eight hundred and twenty-four words what I like to do for fun. This story would’ve used more words if I wasn’t so lazy with the use of contractions, or fewer words if I eased up on the tangentially relevant anecdotes. If you are the type to stay awake at night wondering about my entertainment habits, you are going to have to think about something else tonight. I suggest going into your living room, turning the television to some random cable channel, and start thinking, “Now how have I managed to survive this long with a kitchen that doesn’t include a restaurant quality portable rotisserie cooker?”

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