Thursday, February 20, 2014

Borderlands 2 Resurrected

I don't seem to have as much time to game as I used to, what with trying to write a book and all the classes I take. Or it could just be that Borderlands 2 ruined me. Nothing really compares after having played that game. Hell, I even got out of a speeding ticket once because I said I was late for work because I stayed up so late gaming that I over slept. The officer asked me what game.  When I said Borderlands 2 he said he couldn't very well give me a ticket for that, issued me a warning, and muttered "I wish MY wife played video games" as he walked back to his squad car.  I loved, loved, LOVED that game and played the shit out of Maya. We did also play Warframe's open beta which was very very fun especially in large groups, but it wasn't something that I enjoyed playing solo.  Borderlands 2 however was something I could play with or without Jason, I loved it that much . The writing, the art, the game design, the balance, the weapons, the loot and it's co-op feature. Shit, it was about as close to nirvana as I've experienced in gaming.

To be fair, while working at Trion Worlds, I played a fair amount of Defiance too and really had a genuine blast playing that game.  Still not sure why it got such bad reviews, I think it tried to be too much to too diverse a group (trying to deliver a sci fi MMO shooter to both the console FPS crowd AND the PC MMORPG  crowd).  Funny how both groups complained about the exact opposite shit.  LOL

A while back Jason asked me to play Guild Wars 2 again, since we'd like playing it initially when it first came out. We did play it again and I got bored pretty quickly. So this girl that once adored MMORPGs and found Battlefield 2 to be mass chaos was now underwhelmed by the RPG and wanted more game-play action than simple key-mashing.  Hmmm, I wonder if target practice at the range for realz had anything to do with that? Prolly.

The problem for me now is that most First Person Shooters are PVP and I'm just not willing do deal with the ever-present 15 year old jack-ass that is going to following me around in game fucking with me once he finds out I'm a chick.  Nope, not happenin'.  So I wait for co-op shooter games to play with Jason and those are few.  Diablo III was awesome.  Borderlands 2 was legendary.  Some of the other games have "some" co-op content but Jason and I can burn through that shit fast which leaves with nothing to play.  So I just stopped playing.

Until last night.  Jason informed me that he needed reference of Maya doing her phase lock ability in Borderlands 2 and that he wasn't able to find any images online that weren't first person and he needed to actually see Maya. Which means....yep, you got it....I had to play Borderlands with him again. Unfortunately, he deleted the game off his gaming system but I hadn't off mine so I ran the patch and was in game last night. Steams says I had 92 hours logged on Borderlands 2.  That's a lot of time for me.  It was cool playing again.  I was just running around in the world, not questing or anything, but there was stuff to shoot. In a recent shooting class they were talking about the importance of muscle memory.  That point was illustrated to me when I was running along and monsters tried to gank me.  I didn't really think about it.  I turned and zoomed to reticle and shot, running backward, circle-strafing the enemy, reloading, and shooting some more.  I wasn't oh no, what key do I press, it was pure muscle memory.  Someday I want to be able to do that with my target practice with REAL guns!!!

Point is, Jason was able to get me back playing games last night using some excuse about needing art reference that was rock solid.  Of course I had to help him.  And since he didn't get it loaded and patched last night, we're going to have to play here again real soon.  Oh man that's sooo hard to take! LOL

I just don't understand why GearBox up in DFW isn't working on Borderlands 3 yet.  They need to get on that shit and quick!!!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Formal Basic Pistol Training

Last Saturday, I attended my first formal pistol training.  I figured after going to the range four times with my friend, Becca, and subsequently going to a CHL class, that I should probably get some formal training before I developed any bad habits.  My hubby did the online research on local handgun training and registered me for a Basic Pistol 2 class at KR Training.

I'd felt pretty self-conscious at my CHL class back in October because of the way they treated us girls on the range.  Where the instructors were really friendly and talkative to the guys taking the class, they basically ignored us girls socially. While no one was inappropriate or mean, I certainly didn't feel welcome or encouraged to ask questions or take more classes.

Since I knew I wanted more instruction prior to sending in my application, I never sent in my paperwork to get my license.  I just didn't want to subject myself to the same treatment as my CHL class, so I basically stalled out and forgot about it.  Luckily Jason took the lead in finding another range for me to try out.  I'm guessing he knew how hesitant I actually was, not wanting to be treated like an outcast again on the range, so he signed me up and THEN told me about it.  Once I'm committed to something, I follow through.  He knows me well.

I wasn't sure I was qualified to skip Basic Pistol 1 but Jason said that since I got a score of 249 on my CHL range test after not having fired my gun in nearly 10 months, that he thought I was fine skipping to the Basic 2 class. I read everything I could on the KR Training website, learned about the A Girl & a Gun conference from that site, signed up for AG&AG membership, registered for the AG&AG Conference, read everything I could find on the AG&AG website, learned about IDPA and USPSA classifications from the AG&AG conference tracks, resulting in my signing up for IDPA and USPSA and NRA memberships as well.  At this point I was starting to grasp just how much I didn't know, and felt a little like I'd just grabbed the bull by the tip of his tail.  Still, I was committed, and once I'm committed, I follow through.  So I showed up one week later for my first formal pistol class.

The range (A-Zone Range) is about an hour outside Austin. My instructor was Karl Rehn (the "K.R." in KR Training).  There were 14 people in my class, and we were split up into groups of 7 for target/range work. There was a good mix of skill levels, gender, age, etc. among our student body.  The classroom portions were well thought out, formal enough to make sure all the information was covered and informal enough where you felt comfortable asking a question midstream if you needed clarification.  There were several assistant instructors that assisted in the classroom and range exercises. Every single representative I encountered at KR Training interacted with me and they all were friendly, extremely knowledgeable, safety conscious, passionate about firearms and equally passionate about teaching their knowledge to their students. They weren't dry boring classroom sessions either. I had fun learning even before we hit the range.

When we got to the range, safety was paramount.  Everything was organized, the instructors were easy to hear even with ear protection on, the exercises were very structured and administered with a great instructor:student ratio.  There was always someone right there when I had a question or concern or when I was doing something wrong. Corrections (every student made an error at some point or another) were done appropriately and with professionalism. In the Defensive Pistol class, where things were more stressful on the students, the stress was intentionally imposed on the students in an attempt to simulate (to a much lesser degree) the real-world stress of a defensive shooting scenario and the variability of such an encounter. The stress helped demonstrate to each student just how difficult a defensive shooting incident might be and what we need to learn, know and practice to be prepared and effective.

I came away from that day at A-Zone Range so happy, exhausted mentally and physically, with way WAY more knowledge than I expected to get in a single day, with a solid understanding of what I was doing wrong, how to correct those things, and a bunch of new skills and drills to practice, and with more confidence and passion for target-shooting my handgun at the range. KR Training truly exceeded my expectations all the way around. Not only did I learn a lot and have a great time, but they encouraged me to take more classes and made me feel welcome and valued as one of their students.

I am so thankful to Jason for finding this training for me and for the encouragement he continues to show for my joy of target shooting and firearms.  I'm hoping to take a basic rifle class next of course at KR Training.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Cycle of Pet Ownership

Shortly after I write my last blog entry, our GSD, Abby, took a turn for the worse.  The vet had taken her off antibiotics without doing a followup x-ray and within 3.5 days she was back in respiratory distress.  We got authorization then to see a specialist but by that time she was in congestive heart failure.  The vet didn't really know why she went into congestive heart failure.  Speculation brought up several scenarios for a cause but there seemed no avenue to determine the actual cause of the pneumonia turned congestive heart failure. Although the vet specialist seemed to want us to euthanize Abby once her cardiac status was determined, we requested that they drain the fluid around her heart to relieve the compression and have them look for tumors which they didn't find.  There really was no explanation to be had.  The vet specialist said it was likely hemangiosarcoma, a form of extremely aggressive cancer that attacks the blood vessels typically involving the spleen but also the heart, liver, lungs and other areas.  Within 3 days Abby was back to the earlier acute respiratory distress so, with encouragement from our vet, we had Abby euthanized.  Putting down any animal is tough, but putting down a dog that you love, that doesn't understand why you can't make them better, or what you're about to do to  them, well, that is pretty gut wrenching stuff. When you're unable to make them better, to help them, to act in any manner that has a positive outcome, it is extremely difficult to cope. And when you have to say goodbye to another living being, especially when its premature, you always feel robbed, for them and for yourself. I believe that you give a piece of yourself to those you love (human, dogs, whatever), and when they die they take that with them, a piece of you via the bonds of love. The emptiness we feel is intense after that kind of loss. We do our best to grieve and carry on. And with the case of dog owners, at least with me, for a split second I wonder why on earth I continue to willingly put myself through this cycle of introduction, attachment, love and loss with each new dog that I adopt.  But then I try to imagine living a life that isn't shared with dogs and, well, that doesn't seem like a life I'd enjoy very much. And so I cry and try to remember the good: the safe, secure, happy, loving home I was able to provide to a discarded/abused dog and the pure, simple, joyous companionship and love they shared in return.  Abby is not the first dog that I've grieved over and she likely won't be my last, but she sure does have a special place in my heart and in my memories.  What a special girl.  How much I adored her.  How very much I miss her.

And then we begin the process of filling out adoption applications to get pre-approved for our next rescue dog.  One with an entirely different story, different personality, different needs, different gifts but still with that same eventual offering of unconditional love and companionship and such appreciation for a soft bed, a bowl of food, good care and the love and security our pack offers in return.

I just wish they lived longer.