Wednesday, September 16, 2009

GBR-IV Miscellany

Saturday morning we decided to sleep in and take it easy rather than go to the range and shoot Steel Challenge. Sounds like a great time was had by all, but we don't get to sleep in and spend a day together often enough. We needed this.

That afternoon we made it to the Hospitality Suite before the appointed hour for the beginning of the evening's festivities, kicked off by Rachel Parsons, Media Liaison from the NRA-ILA, then Bill Brassard of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, followed by the All You Can Eat Pizza Feast--paid for by the NSSF--and the raffle, the results of which I blogged that night before passing out.

I wasn't taking notes, but Rachel spoke mostly about Bloggers and the NRA-ILA working together. She spoke a little bit about how oftentimes there are things that NRA is doing "behind the scenes" which can't be discussed; during the question and answer period we made a few suggestions about how the NRA can better use "social networking media"--i.e., blogs, FaceSpace, Twitter--to keep the public informed.

Bill mostly talked about the same sorts of things; it sounds like NSSF may be making better use of "Web 2.0", AKA social networking media, to keep folks informed. Of course, if folks don't know it's there...

NSSF picked up the tab for the "all you can eat pizza feast"; NRA had paid for munchies the night before. Other than the use of the Hospitality Suite and the pizza feast, GBR was pay-as-you-go for attendees, so almost every dime on the attendees' registration fees and of raffle ticket sales went to Soldiers' Angels - Project Valour-IT, founded by Major Chuck Ziegenfuss to provide laptop computers with voice-activated software, Wii gaming systems, and handheld GPS' to military personnel recovering from traumatic injuries.

I'm not generally in the habit of praising officers, but Chuck's talk Saturday night--and, in fact, his company throughout the event--was very entertaining. From his description of the nature and extent of his wounds, he could very easily have simply descended into a perpetual self-pity party, or have given up and died. Instead, with the help of his wife and his personally-assigned Soldiers Angel, the first "adaptive laptop for the wounded"; a laptop was loaded with Dragon Naturally Speaking software, so he could use it while in Walter Reed Army Hospital with both arms in casts, and he was only able to type with one finger. Now he could surf the web and write emails while in the hospital; to him, the most important aspect was that he could stay in touch with "his guys", the soldiers in his unit. (His full story is told on pages 18-20 of the September '09 Soldiers' Angels Newsletter.) (That entire document seems to be loaded with some sort of electronic hay fever, better have some tissues handy...)

From Project Valour-IT's website:
Technology supplied includes:
  • Voice-controlled Laptops - Operated by speaking into a microphone or using other adaptive technologies, they allow the wounded to maintain connections with the rest of the world during recovery.
  • Wii Video Game Systems - Whole-body game systems increase motivation and speed recovery when used under the guidance of physical therapists in therapy sessions (donated only to medical facilities).
  • Personal GPS - Handheld GPS devices build self-confidence and independence by compensating for short-term memory loss and organizational challenges related to severe TBI and severe PTSD.
ADDED: I managed to send my photos of Chuck's talk to a black hole, but DirtCrashr has one here.

After the dust from the raffle settled--except I'm not sure it's finished settling yet--Gun Blogger Rendezvous IV brought in over $5000 for Soldier's Angels/Project Valour-IT, perhaps as much as $7000. Being part of that definately made up for the 13-14 hour drives both ways, gas prices in excess of $3.00 a gallon, and, for Mrs. Drang, spending her birthday doing somehting I wanted to do instead of what she wanted to do.

(See my post GBR-IV Schwag for what Mrs. Drang and I brought home.)

Other stuff: GBR-IV was officially over after the Cowboy Fast Draw. I think most folks left that afternoon; we stayed over a day, and drove home Monday. We took the route I-80 eastbound, then US 95 northbound from Winnemucca, getting on I82 westbound just west of Boise. We then picked up I84 west of Pendleton, turning west again on I90 at Ellensburg. Google maps had told us to expect a 14+ hour drive taking this route, but I believe we could have trimmed an hour of that, what with the speed limit in Nevada being 75 on the interstate and 70 on two-lane back roads, and 70 in Washington outside of built-up areas. If it hadn't been for construction in Oregon and Washington... (At last in Washington there was work going on; in Oregon, once again, it looked as if they had the lane changes laid out but were doing no work...)

It occurred to us late in the stay that we could probably have used our time share's travel agency to book a room at the Silver Legacy, using our points; it might have cost more points, but we used the kitchenette in the time-share so little that food costs would not have been significantly higher. We may try that compromise next year. It would also be nice to be able to get enough time off to be able to be down there earlier, but that is too situation-dependent.

All in all this was a great experience, new friends were made, and a great time was had by all. We hope to be able to be there next year.

No comments: