Most IT employees around here only come up for air to take a sip of coffee or stretch the legs. The rest of the time is spent head-down in a laptop, usually with headphones in. This is not enforced for punitive reasons, it's simply the nature of IT work; it's not for everyone. Most IT challenges are solved inside the head first, and only translated into something tangible after the solution has been modeled and QA'd mentally. There isn't much need for the outside world during this time. After especially complex mental gymnastics, I've seen them emerge with blank stares, almost confused by the analog world they just awoke to. Feet shuffling just a bit. Hair messy.
Time for a team building day!
Team building exercises are, of course, meant to strengthen the social bonds between coworkers. But they don't have to be teammates encouraging each other to overcome fears with trust-falls and zip-lines. We just go do something fun, and bill the company for it. This time it was paintballing. What does this have to do with solar power? Nothing at all, which is sort of the point. Don't get me wrong, we all love solar, but you have to step away sometimes.
Before I go into how much fun it was, I have a gripe to share. The Miramar Marine base is located, literally, a few hundred yards from here and they have a paintball course. When planning this team building day, I Googled Miramar Paintball, found the Miramar Paintball website and called the phone number provided on the homepage. I verified they will be open the following Thursday and what exactly everyone needed to bring. I called again Thursday morning to verify there would be no surprises, "Yes, you can come at any time this morning. In fact, there are already people in the park playing." Here's where the problem comes in: we show up 30 minutes later and not only is nobody there, but the paintball park is not even open. Turns out that when you call the phone number on the Miramar paintball website, you are actually calling the Camp Pendleton paintball park some 40 minutes North. We made the journey, but unfortunately the commute time was deducted from the time allocated for paintball. Fail Miramar paintball, fail.
Any, back to the fun. We had a great time. You get to play among decommissioned tanks, helicopters and other movie-like props. I don't recall anyone taking a particularly painful shot, except when Carmine took one directly in the neck. Brian seems to get taken out early, but I think it's because he doesn't cower behind safe cover like some of us. Matches last 10 minutes and every minute is packed with adrenaline; it's not just that paintballs can hurt, a lot, but also the anticipation of getting shot and the shock of when it actually happens that causes the heart to race. Even walking off the field can be intense as other confused and frightened players will take shots as you even if your hands are up to signify you're out.
It turned out to be a great day. We'll definitely be back.