Sunday, December 20, 2009

Air Rifling

On my quest to try as many new things as possible, I accepted an invitation from my friend Andre to join him at a Benchrest Air Rifle Competition this past Saturday. I had shot one time in his backyard (air rifles are cool that way) and thought it was very intriguing. It takes a lot of skill to hold the rifle steady as you launch a little lime seed sized lead pellet to a very small (1 inch inch diameter) target 20 yards away using only air as the propellent.
How could I turn down an offer to go to an indoor firing range way out in the middle of the woods about an hour south of seattle and look into this very small but specialized subculture.

There were a couple of small kids, a couple of guys my age, and a lot of 60 year old geeky air rifle enthusiasts. All very nice people.

This sport is all about the gear. I over heard the classic letter and number dominated conversations that went on for ever. "You shooting a 300 with 22 on an R11 at 20?" "Yeah, I like the 75 K100 with the 26 much better" (or something like that). Interesting how all hobbies like this have their lingo. I think of motorcycle lingo with all the brands and models and parts or of climbing lingo with weird words like bomber and jengus and manky that once you are indoctrinated into the culture, it all makes perfect sense. But as an outsider sounds completely like a bunch of techno gibberish.

It was a fun day doing something I had never done. I have to say that air rifling is pretty cool. Something about hitting a bullseye 2mm across at 20 meters away with a pellet smaller than a pea using only air that is satisfying. There are guys at this competition who can do it 98 out of a hundred times in a row. Impressive.
More photos at this flickr site

Friday, December 18, 2009

Swing in Thailand

As Jon's post says it so well, when in Thailand it is best to adapt the attitude of Mai ben lai (meaning in this matter- no problem).
Normally, I am opposed to Golfing. I have an issue with the fertilizers and the obscene amounts of water that go into creating and maintaining a golf course and therefore want nothing to do with the game (it is a game by the way, not a sport).

Well, when Jonathan Siegrest (who is also opposed to golf) suggested that we give it a shot while in Thailand, I first turned my head the other way. "I'm not wasting my time here doing that." But then Jon kept pushing saying how much of a crack up it would be for two people who have pretty much never swung a club before to ride up to a course on a little scooter and make the best out of nine holes, I finally gave with a mai ben lai.

We found the cheapest course that was decent. Nine holes will set you back 120 Baht (4 dollars) with a mandatory caddy (2.5 dollars) and golf club rental (7 dollars). We split the rental.
So with clubs thrown over the shoulder we strut outside to find our caddy's- two thai women- smiling and unsuspecting of what they were about to get into.
We looked around and saw that other people were swinging their clubs around while waiting to hit the ball at the first hole so we grab a big club and start to do the same. Then we see a guy actually drive his first ball, and immediately start to have second thoughts.
"I can't do that," I say. Jon looks a little red in the face and also feels discomfort at having to go up to the tee and swing the club around.
Up we go, the caddy hands us the right club and we have to joke around with them for a while so that they let us drive the ball from the furthest forward tee.
They give in and instantly realize after our performance (see the video below) that this was going to be a different sort of caddy experience.

9 holes later we manage to improve our skills. After many instances of fishing the ball out of the water, slicing our ways out of sandtraps, putting our way from one side of the green to the other, and letting faster parties pass us, we finished up being able to hit the ball in about the direction we wanted to and with a big smile on our face. A little fried pork with basil and some vegetarian fried rice back at club house allowed us to reflecton the new experience.

I think it was something we had a really good time doing. I hadn't laughed so hard for such a long period of time in a while. We were happy that we were forced to get caddies. At first we didn't want to, but we had to. Let me tell you that this made the experience much richer. Not only did we get to play a new game, we had a great cultural interaction while doing it. We pushed our Thai as far as we could and learned quite a bit about always smiling no matter what happens. Well worth 10 bucks spent on the day.

On this video, the green is across the water. We had an ants nest chance in Thailand (Thai people go crazy for ants nests because of the eggs inside) of keeping our balls out of the water. Splash!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

2 weddings and cipro

I was going to write a bunch about going to two fantastic wedding while we were in thailand and about taking Cipro at the second wedding because by going South I always get sick. As if by default. However, I keep putting the writing off (as I am now in the midst of planning for the big moto trip from Seattle to Argentina) so I thought I'd just post this video of a bunch of riding up to the wedding in Doi Ang Khang. The second part of the road from Chiang Mai to Doi Ang Khang is one of my favorite motorcycling roads that I have ever ridden. See my post on the Tour-de-Rain and the caving adventure about this fantastic area.

And here are some photos of the look out now built over the valley of caves. Mary (pronounced Maelly) runs this stand and lives in the valley below. She asked if I wanted to build a house down there and live. I said I'd think about it. And I am seriously thinking about it. Anyone want to invest in a house in a remote valley on the thai burmese border that is inhabited by Chinese who had to leave China during the cultural revolution. You can have all the oranges and avocado you can eat.