by Steve Raymond

This? It's a "presentation" tool, of course. The 5-milliwatt red argon laser is perfect for pointing at pie charts, line graphs, and the like. The packaging suggests that the laser's range is about 300 feet, but I'm sure it can reach a couple of hundred feet more. What? It's the nineties—I'm working remotely, the charts are in the building across the street. So is that guy. I've discovered one of the most potent annoyance devices known to man.

xxxI am a laser-pointer terrorist.

The fundamentals of laser-pointer technique are alluringly basic: just point and shoot; confusion of strangers will follow. The real trick is to learn how to zap others without being detected. Remember, mastery will require commitment and diligence.

Novice or "joy buzzer" laser users will ride a giddy buzz of random street goosings, not caring if they are spotted by their targets, unaware of the greater nuisance they can achieve. More hardened laser saboteurs scorn such 'goofbeamers,' who they feel cheapen the beam they hold sacred.

The laser-pointer terrorist recognizes the larger game, and packing pointers at all times becomes a matter of course. Still, battles must be approached with strategy and respect for some basic laser-pointer warfare conventions. If you're interested in joining the ranks, study these rules carefully:

1Exposure—Weigh maximum possible impression on the victim against minimum self-exposure. Players begin to choose their victims and perspectives carefully, learning to bounce shots off reflective surfaces or through tiny apertures so as to further confuse the beam's point of origin.

2Once Is Enough—Don't ruin the effect by tormenting your victims until they find you. The temptation is hard to resist once you've got someone chasing his or her own tail, but demonstrate a little patience and persistence. Follow your chosen quarry for a little while, and spring the beam on your target just often enough to remind her that she's been 'chosen.'

3Recognize Transparency—Windows are your friends. People believe that indoors equals secure. Wrong! Get them while they're inside, reminding them that nowhere is safe.

4Pulsing—Don't stream your beam on a target wastefully when you can practice placing your shots with tiny pulses. A pulse is harder for your victim to track, and can deliver a creepy effect if you can pulse him in the eyes. This technique leaves him wondering if he actually saw anything or not.

5The Sniper—Pick a high vantage point, like a rooftop, and nail people from on high. Most victims have no idea how far the laser-pointer can reach, and will scan their immediate vicinity before looking further, giving you all the lead time you need to hunker down.

6No Eye Contact—Use peripheral vision, or even small hand mirrors, to bounce your shots. Players are often busted by accidental eye contact with their intended quarry, as some targets can almost psychically triangulate your position.

7You Are the Dot—You must recognize that your personal enjoyment, while crucial, is secondary to the promotion of the Dot as an amorphous icon of terror.

So, the Army has sparked your interest and you want to join? It's easy! Next time a blazing red Dot crawls across your chest, take out your pointer and signal back. We'll be in touch.   </end>

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