pew pew pew – getting smoked at Laser Tag

Laser Storm Scorecard

When Lazer Tag came out in 1986 I was a HUGE fan boy. I had the helmet, vest, multiple guns, basically anything with Lazer etched on it had to be mine. Then there was the poor man’s Lazer Tag known as Photon which I don’t know wtf was up with that one. It was the 80s though and merchandising was king. Lazer Tag was cool and futuristic while Photon was more stuck in what the 70s thought the future would be. At least that’s how I remember it. Cut me some slack, I was 10.

(Watch Lazer Tag commercial on YouTube)

Last weekend I was invited to rekindle my obsession with a trip north to McKnight Rd to Laser Storm for a 2 game winner-take-all-battle-royale-to-the-death match with Mike Sorg and members of the Sorgatron Media family. Picture it, 5 grown men in their 30’s playing a game from the 80’s and whose physical activity for the year is beer league softball. At least that’s how I went into it thinking, I would come out a changed man.

Going in for the first time there is a lot to absorb so I’ll break it down easy for you

  • 2 teams
  • 10 minutes of play
  • Capture the Flag play of red vs green and you need to get more points by shooting the other team while trying to access their base and shoot the target for extra points.
  • You wear a vest and headset plus you get a phaser.
  • You can only get hit twice before you have to go to a charging station and reload.

Now here’s where it gets interesting. First game I had no clue what I was doing. I’m terrible playing 1st person shooter games and along with the hearty mix of thumping techno music plus being in new surroundings, I don’t think many of us knew what to do. You don’t realize the workout you’re getting until the end when you come out a ball of sweat but whooooa buddy let me tell you, that was fun. Below is my score sheet.

Laser Storm Scorecard

There were 2 birthday parties going on while we were there and they proved to be a much needed break while we came up with a game plan against the Red team. Before the next round kicked off and players were called to the starting line, there was a change of plans. A family of young kids and teenagers on dates joined in. D’OH! Our well laid out plan of going in guns blazing were crushed as most of us tripped over kids in the dark or got held up as they would suck up the energizing stations.

Laser Storm Scorecard

I was as good as dead. Red team had time to get situated and every move I made from a charging station got me tagged.

At the end of our hour we were beat but wanted more. As I was catching my breath I noticed around the waiting area there were banners hanging up from championship titles won in their adult leagues. It wasn’t long before we decided we must do this again and with the packages available, could plan for an incredible evening.

Yinz Team Laser Tag. Oh it’s coming…

Surviving Pittsburgh’s St Patrick’s Day 2015

Green Jello Shots

I can’t recall too many St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Pittsburgh. Not because I may have been up to my waist in green beer but it’s not something I ever celebrated unless my family was in town. My dad would give me the “get your ass down here and have a cigar with me!” call and who can say no to those kind of demands?

Steel City Time Machine

Last year was the first time I flew solo and that ended… well it was a freaking blast! I knew I wouldn’t be able to relive the adventures of a single dad on the town but I was hoping to experience the parade with my boys. Mother nature put the kybosh to those plans with the rain but what did happen made up for it in so many ways.

Lunch with Pho-Friends
Mario, my childhood altar boy partner in crime and his wife Jennifer were in town for the Maroon 5 concert. Since we had the kids and taking them to bars is frowned upon apparently, we met up at my favorite place in the Strip District to eat – Vietnam’s Pho. I had the Pho Dat Biet (Beef eye round, well done flank, tendon, brisket, beef tripe & beef balls noodle soup) which was once again soul warming and everyone else had… ummmm pho probably. I was too busy with my bowl.

Mario and I haven’t seen each other in over a year so this was a much needed reunion to get caught up. Little did I know we would need more time and the adventure wasn’t over.

The South Side Shite Show Spectacular
I dropped the family off and headed back down to Mario’s hotel to pick them up and shuttle them over to the South Side to visit one of his cousins. If you’ve never driven in Pittsburgh before, this is NOT the weekend to learn. I insisted on driving them over and it was a good decision, people were fall down face in the gutter drunk and all regards for rules of the road were out the window.

I have lived in Pittsburgh for 17 years and this was the very first time I’ve been on the South Side for St Patrick’s Day weekend. Most call it amateur drinking day and I can see why from the college kids barely holding each other up at 4pm to the dude passed out in a shopping cart. This is a 100% people watching spectacular and I suggest checking it out at least once in your lifetime. Yeah you might be all hoity toity grown up now but you know what, these people were having fun so take time off from yelling at people to get off your lawn, pull up a chair and watch the magic.

I will give the local police credit, they had a really strong presence and no one seemed to reach the level of belligerent. No one touched my car so I say that’s a win also.

Mario and crew invited me out to dinner at Nakama which was a few blocks away. That’s right, I’m getting Pho and Nakama in the same day. I like where this is going! At dinner Mario served me a spirit I sadly admit I tried for the first time that evening. It was warm sake and it was freaking gooood. In all of my travels to far away lands in search of great beer, I have never tried sake. In fact Mario is the first of my friends to drink it that I’m aware of and let me tell ya, wooooooooo buddy I want a sake set.

  Nakama Cooking

We continued our conversation from lunch over a few drinks and I took a second to think about how far the 2 of us had come from our days of tormenting our teachers since Kindergarten. How many obstacles we’ve overcome to get to this point and how special our friendship is. Then I had a sake burp and we both forgot WTF we were talking about. In fact I probably just made all of that up. I was too busy watching the chef at the table next to us try to set a drunk girl’s green wig on fire.

Green Beer. Green Jello Shots. Green People.
After the South Side I headed home and dropped my car off. Thinking this could be the end of my night I started chilling beers when my buddy Eamon made the call for a night cap at a local bar within walking distance. I’m still in DAS BOOT so it didn’t matter the distance, I was hobbling there.

Green Jello ShotsI have always said that there is a time and place for every beer and this night I had no problem with pitchers of green Yuengling. Not long after we arrived, we were joined by my friends Dudders and Ginger who were wrapping up their night as well. The night was about good times with good friends and being thankful for having awesome people in my life.

The DJ started playing videos on the in-house system around 11pm and we watched in amazement at the ridiculous videos that are apparently still being made. Who on earth approved these and how can I get in on the action? Don’t ask me what the songs were because I have no idea (some hippity hoppity gangsta rap songs about derrieres) but they’re big with the dance clubs and the old dude with silver hair at the bar trying to twerk anyone with a pulse.

2 years in a row I went into the day without a plan and it turned out amazing. The old project manager in me usually needs to know what’s going on at all times so to just wing it was a new and relaxing experience.

Discovering Pittsburgh through my kids

When I write on the topic of cool things I discover about Pittsburgh I’ll always get a few “I can’t believe you’ve never been there before!” comments. Funny coming from people afraid to cross a bridge or go through a tunnel but it’s true.

Teaspoon with Mr. Rogers
Teaspoon with Mr. Rogers

I moved here in my early 20’s for work and, while I knew attractions were around, I had little interest in Pittsburgh besides sports and beer. I was a closet history nerd but my friends at the time were all about the bar scene. Social media wasn’t even a star in Zuck’s eye yet for people socializing online as we know it and I fell into the pattern I had in Erie. You go to the same bar, with the same people and do it all over again the next day. “It’s taco night and $.25 drafts. Why wouldn’t you go there? We always go there!” It’s not crazy to think that I could still be working at Staples and going to Andy’s Pub on Saturday nights for billiards and then midnight bowling. Not that I didn’t enjoy it when I was 21, I really did, it’s just that’s what you do.

My brother and his family would get me out to explore Pittsburgh after my move but the thought of returning never crossed my mind for a lot of these places. I wasn’t programmed to think of finding the best burger, pizza or best anything like we are now. There was no passion to have a “best” place like so many Pittsburghers boast. We didn’t have that local pride or attachment in Erie.

My world was my work for years and it wasn’t until I had kids that I started to look at Pittsburgh, and my life, in a new way. Since last summer we’ve been on a mission to find out what makes Pittsburgh great and this year we went all in with memberships to the zoo, children’s museum and anything with the name Carnegie in it. We’ve been hitting up parks I never knew existed and have taken advantage of whatever cool things I can find on blogs such as The Pittsburgh Mommy Blog and WQED’s Smartparent.

I’m kicking off a small series later today “Discovering Pittsburgh through my Kids”. Maybe it’s with my kids? Eh we’ll see.

We’ll start today with museums, move to libraries on Friday and then parks the following week. Those are 3 categories I feel best sum up why I love Pittsburgh and raising my family here. The people and traditions will come later this year once festival season wraps up. If you have any suggestions please let me know!

Cheers n’at!


I can’t believe you did that

Last week I made a post about deleting the website by mistake. Or was it? I had a few reasons for the post which I’ll share with you since I’ve received mixed feedback on why I did it.


Yinz are all reactionary n’at
A few years ago my podcampy friend Chris Brogan removed all of his Twitter followers to see if people would react by freaking out instead of finding out why and they didn’t let him down. Some people lost their minds even though Chris said he was doing it. The point was that on social media, instinct is to react and flip instead of finding out why something happened and checking the source (Chris, if I’m wrong let me know but that’s how I remember it *ha*).

Anyway, after a few readers told me recently they didn’t like reading a summary and then having to click “read more”, they would rather have all the content in the feed. I started to think about how my site was being consumed and started throwing around some ideas. The event in the post took place and not only wanted to share it but also have some fun.

The post was going to be 2 part. One was reading the text to tease what happened and two was finding out the details by watching the short video. I was curious if people actually read what I write or just skim and leave.

If you watched the video you would have found out that everything was fine. It always was. I was worried that the site wouldn’t come back up because this was my first site-wide blow up on production instead of a dev server but in 5 minutes it was fine. Later that night, friends on various networks asked questions about the site. So did I really delete SIDT? Yes. Did I freak out? Kinda. Was it like the video? You may never know. For a few minutes I wondered if I should even bring it back up but that’s another discussion.

Making videos with the kids
I could have let the whole situation go, add it to my log and joke with my IT friends about what happened. In fact if you ask any seasoned web guy, most will have a story about a time something similar happened. Instead I thought it would be fun to make a video with Teaspoon since I’m teaching him basic editing and how to layout video shoots. Little Thor was going to be in it but his current protest on wearing pants played a factor in limiting his role.

I appreciate all of the concern from friends as I’m on month 7 .5 of being a stay-at-home-dad and still job hunting. Don’t worry. Relax. Have a homebrew!  I know I did.

I guess I could make a batch called Overreaction Ale.


What I learned from a night in the BEV Lounge

Veronica (V-rock) left Pittsburgh for Cali awhile ago and this was the first time I’ve seen her since the move.  We met through Podcamp Pittsburgh and the Wrestling Mayhem guys back in the early days and found out we had 2 big things in common. A love of good beer and we’re both from Erie.

Men Of BEV Lounge

The BEV Lounge is named after my friend Hutch’s former podcast “Burgh’s Eye View” and is located in his basement. It’s 1/2 man cave with a bar and several taps, and 1/2 recording studio for his podcasts. Ideally it’s how I want my place set up when we buy our next house.

Friday night after a grueling game of 6-on-5 Yinz Team softball, I headed south to the BEV Lounge in Brookline for a party in her honor. It was this night that I came to realize a few things.

My friends know how to make good food and drink excellent beer.
Actually most of this I already knew. Uncle Crappy is the king of tailgating and posts pics all the time of food his making at home. Last night I finally had the chance to try some and WOW he makes the best sauerkraut balls. V-rock brought a Nelson by Alpine Beer CompanyFortunate Islands by Modern Times Beer and a 2011/12 Deliverance by The Lost Abbey. Oh and she also gave me a Pliny the Elder for home. I really need to do a beer tour of the west coast.

If you don’t watch the clock, the lounge will suck you in.
I arrived around 9:30pm, talked to a few people on the porch and then made my to the Lounge to say hi. Next thing I knew it was midnight and people were getting ready to leave but to me it felt like 20 minutes. This is a sign of not only a great place to hang out but great company also.

Most of my friends are from social networking.
I’ve been married for 8 years and the people I talk with daily now (the YinzTeamers) I didn’t know back then. It just isn’t an online thing either. I play sports with them. Our kids play together. We have fundraisers and we hang out. We’ve gone beyond tweets to personal relationships and that’s something I love about the Pittsburgh social community. There are some really great people out there and this platform is bringing us together.

Awesome content and I’m missing out on it.
Hutch had a show called Burgh’s Eye View that was about all things Pittsburgh. The good, the bad, the complete WTF IS THAT and everything in between. That spawned Steel City Resistance and, as I found out last night, he is working on shows 4 nights a week. Sorg (pronounced to Sorj in YinzTeam-ese) has a “podcast day” every Tuesday where he cranks out multiple shows in row for Sorgatron Media. No doubt the hardest working podcaster I know.

These guys are making shows and I can’t make time in my day to sit down and enjoy what others are doing let alone try to figure out what I’m going to do with “Should I Drink That?”. Then again the way I consume media now has changed. I listen to Marc Maron’s WTFpodcast on my phone when I work out. I try to watch the live stream of Awesomecast on Tuesday nights via Chromecast to my TV. I’d love to say that I listen to shows in my car but the trips are short and usually filled with kids screaming.

I would love to be able to turn out content like these guys but reality is that our current house won’t support a full time studio setup and dedicating a set time every week to record without being interrupted is next to impossible. I’d like to do more than just beer shows so who knows, maybe once the meatheads get a little older it will.

I need a nap.
After softball and hanging out for a few hours I was exhausted but wasn’t ready for bed. Does that make sense? In my head it does so let’s roll with it. I made it home around 12:30a and jumped online quick to check a few things that popped up on my phone. I picked up the house and sat down with a slice of left over pizza and a Golden Monkey to watch Netflix. Fell asleep around 2-3 and woke up at 6am to my wife leaving for work and kids in full blown jagoff mode. Great way to start a day after 4 hours of sleep eh?

One common thing that everyone last night talked about was taking time for themselves. That’s something I’ve been bad at and need to work on. Even if its a couple hours a week geeking out or reading, I need to sneak in some time for myself and for getting together with friends. It has been way too long since I’ve seen some of them.