Fulfilling the American dream

March 24th, 2008
On saturday, I finally did something I had planned a long time ago, and I could finally cross it from my Life-ToDo list. Some interns and myself went to a shooting range, and fired some firearms european people could only dream about. I know, I know, I have always have been attracted by weapons in general, which does not mean that I like war or anything related. Firing a gun doesn’t make you instantly a serial killer. Like the NRA says, “Guns don’t kill people, people do”. And as Eddie Izzard would add, “… but I think the gun helps !”. Anyway, if you judge me for having done and enjoyed that, well no one forces you to read my blog, right ? :D




I came across the website of the Sunset Hill shooting range as I was looking for shooting ranges in the vicinity of New Jersey, and their arsenal looked very impressive. I told other interns about it, and after postponing it a few times because of bad weather or the availability of some interns, we finally went there on saturday. Lothar, David, Orlando, Daniel and myself drove the 90 Miles to Henryville in Pennsylvania. We left the car outside the range, it was already very loud and impressive. It sounded a bit like a firework that would explode just in front of you, on the ground.



We went in and signed in, all we needed was an ID. Well, at least one for the group. We got earmuffs and eye protection, and we could go out. At least 10 booths were available, with each one instructor waiting and several weapons nailed to the walls of those booths. All we had to do was to show up at a booth, tell the instructor which weapon we wanted to fire, and he’d show us what to do in a very professional way. The instructors were all very friendly and they were very strict regarding their “Safety first” philosophy, which is a good thing. I asked several questions about the weapons and the laws in Pennsylvania, did you know that all you needed to buy a gun or a rifle was a … valid driver’s license ? And you could carry your weapon with you everywhere you go if you wish. Crazy, huh ?



One instructor told me that no one gets robbed in Pennsylvania, no one wants to break into a house because the owner most certainly owns at least one weapon. The same goes for assaulting people: It simply does not happen so often, because the whole point of having a gun is that the victim does not have one. Here, it is different because both aggressor and victim are armed. This logic seems to be reasonable at first, but in the end, people get killed more easily. Anyway, don’t f**k with Pennsylvanian people.



The most funny thing was when I asked what I would have to do to own a full automatic weapon. All you need to do is a “full background check” in order to see if you ever had problems with the authorities. If not (which is usually the case for most people), you can go and order yourself a new M60 or whatever the military arsenal has to offer in the next walmart. In Europe, I could get in trouble if I showed people my air rifle. I like America. So this is me, firing a SA-58 FAL with a mounted red dot.

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It’s probably less impressive on the video, especially the very loud sound is missing. I was litteraly astonished to see how easily I hit the targets. I had never shot such a powerful rifle before, and all I had to do is point and shoot. The targets were approximately 30-40 meters away, and every single shot was a bullseye.

I also fired a .44 desert eagle, the loudest weapon on the range, then an Ak-47 with ironsights, a Defender Shotgun and a scoped AR-15. The shotgun felt like a toy in my hands, I expected a much heavier weight. The AK-47 was also very accurate and loud, I wish I had tried out the scoped version. Maybe next time.



It was really a great experience, at the beginning when the instructor gave me the AK-47, my hands were almost shaking. Once you’ve fired such a weapon and felt it’s power, you swear to god that you never ever want to be in a war. It’s just so amazingly brutal, and the thought of people actually shooting at each other with those things gives me the creeps. It’s very fun to shoot at targets, though, and I would definitely do it again if I could. Maybe I will :) Make sure to check out the pictures in the gallery ! As you can see, people from everywhere are going there. Some families even brought their small kids ! We met a group of Germans who also live in Princeton and who work at Miele, in the vicinity of Siemens. See, I’m not the only crazy guy out there ! :)

Off Topic

March 18th, 2008
I recently fell in love with that song:

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It’s from the movie “Once”, which I have not seen yet. Thanks Katherine for showing me this !

New (cool) car

March 15th, 2008
Let me count …

Kia Optima V6 : Check.
Chevrolet HHR :Check.
Chevrolet Impala: Check.
Chevrolet Malibu: Check.

And now I drive this silver Pontiac G6 with sunroof and 6 CD Charger ! I finally got rid of my buggy Malibu, and I chose this one instead:




I am going to try to keep this one for a while, the sunroof is just priceless, especially with the summer coming. The mileage is horrible, even though it’s not a V6. I wonder what is better for the mileage: A V6 with high torque, or a regular V4 that tends to get high RPMs very quickly. Judging from the fuel gauge, a V6 would maybe have been more economic. Still, that narrows the list of cars I have not driven yet down to 4 or something like this :D

Ski Trip in Blue Mountain Lake

March 13th, 2008
I spent the last weekend skiing in Blue Mountain Lake (NY), 300 Miles from Princeton, with 9 other interns from SCR. We rented a furnished shack in the middle of nowhere for 2 days, and everything would just be wonderful. Except the weather, though. Here’s a map:


With three cars (Malibu, HHR and G6), we left Siemens around 3:30 pm on Friday. The ride wasn’t as fun as expected, as the weather really got worse the closer we got to the Gore Mountain Area. But nevertheless, me made it without major incident. We rented snowboards and skis, and we had a lot a fun despite the freezing, constant rain pouring from the sky. It’s been 2 years that I have not been riding a snowboard, but somehow it came back quite fast and after a few rides, I really enjoyed it.





Back at the shack, we had everything we needed: A fireplace, funny interns, drinking games and loooots of alcohol (which, by the way, we did not even finish). We may not have got enough sleep during that week end, but it was totally worth it. Sunday morning was almost sunny, and I had snowed the whole night … Happy as a clam, we took the 30 Miles ride to the station. Somehow, we got the strange feeling that something was wrong. Indeed, as we arrived, only a few cars were parked outside and the chairlifts did not move. After talking to some local guy in charge, it turns out that a power failure was the cause of this. So we could either get our money back, or go to another station, a couple of miles away, where only one chairlift was working. There also was a half pipe and snowboard rails.





We went there anyway, and had a good time. I got myself a stiff neck in the late afternoon, when I tried to master the half pipe. It’s way more difficult than it actually looks like ! Here is a nice group picture, make sure to take a closer look to my full body suit that made me look like Hannibal Lecter :D Tons of other pictures can be found, as usual, in my gallery.


Thanks to Mirja for organizing the whole trip, and to everybody who was there: Robert, Daniel, Didi, Josephine, David, Steffen, Konrad and Florian. What’s the next event ? :D

Happy Birthday

March 10th, 2008
So it was my birthday thursday. Pretty old, isn’t it ?


Fabio’s farewell was planned that evening, so I did not plan anything special related to my birthday, I figured that I could do throw a party whenever I wanted at Washington road :) But Silvia, Conny and Silvana had prepared two surprise cakes for Fabio and me, thank you again guys, it was really good. Here are some pictures: