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How I Ended Up In The Islands
Sun Apr 27, 2008 8:22 pm
[ Mood: Amused ]
[ Currently: Eating ]
On a thread some time back Nibs had asked me how I came to live in the Virgin Islands. This was my reply:
No one has asked, no trouble to answer. At the risk of losing some of my new found friends, I will now openly admit, hanging my head in shame, I am a lawyer. I sue people here in America's Paradise, a bit of the serpent in the garden, so to speak.
My practice is eclectic, I do a fair amount of transactional work, property closings, deals, but I am also an expert in matters of divorce. I have a real estate firm, "Great House Real Estate," with 3 agents. I am a litigator, that is, I take matters to trial. (This may explain why I may get a little pedantic in my musings.)
I paid my way through law school by dealing blackjack in South Lake Tahoe, at Harrah's casino. After finishing school, and taking the California bar, I headed up to Tahoe to ski, party, deal blackjack, and to work on some of the more attractive cocktail waitresses.
I had not even applied for a position as an attorney, I was not all too sure I wanted to practice law, to be candid, I entered law school with only the vaguest notion of what it entailed.
Party I did, for almost two thirds of a year, with nary a thought of the law in my grasshopper head. I received a call from a law school pal who had graduated a year before me, who was living in Fairbanks, Alaska, working there as a judicial law clerk. Without my knowledge or permission, he had told the judges about me, and given me his highest recommendation as his replacement. He was taking another job with the appeals court. The clerkships only lasted a year. Well, the next thing I knew I had a judicial clerkship, which is a fairly choice thing to get for a law school graduate. Besides, it was in Alaska, which sounded interesting, you know, meeting eskimos and stuff.
I spent the next year in Fairbanks. Wholly Schamoley, that place is COLD. I mean 50 below 0 with no wind chill. I mean my car's tires would freeze so that the first part of the drive was on non round tires, until the rubber re rounded. It was so cold I had to plug my car in overnight, and at the courthouse while I was working. The rubber boot around my Mustang's gear shift shattered one teeth chattering morning.
I am not that fond of the cold.
The sun was rising at 11:00 am, and setting at 2:00 pm. The cocktail waitresses were still in South Lake Tahoe. This was not at all to my liking.
It was not all bad, I saw the northern lights (frequently), saw moose, bear, bald eagles, met eskimos (no nose rubbing, to my disappointment), drove up toward the arctic circle, you know, did the highlights.
But I will always remember when, on one propitious day, one of the other law clerk's mothers sent us all calendars. She was a travel agent, so the calendar focused on exotic locales. I looked at the January picture....It was a shot of Trunk Bay, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands. "Why," I asked myself, "Am I not there with a cocktail waitress?"
I began sending resumes to every firm in the region. In addition, and out of fairness, I peppered our trust territories in the Pacific, such as Truk, Palau and Saipan. I wanted to be someplace that was warm. All year long.
To avoid responding with more than you requested, I will shorten my tale, leaving out some twists and turns, to state that I lived on St. Thomas for three years, before moving 40 miles south to St. Croix to open my own practice.
I met my lovely wife while on St. Thomas, and while she was not, alas, a cocktail waitress, I did manage to meet her in a bar.
Below, a view from our deck here on St. Croix:
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U-2? Yes. Me, Too.
Mon Apr 07, 2008 3:31 pm
[ Mood: Distorted ]
[ Currently: Reading ]
I went to this "Wills Wings Demo Days" thing at Wallaby Ranch, and saw a bunch of folks, some of whom made lasting impressions, others of whom did not. All HG.Orgers were great folks, of course. One who always makes an impression is Socrates, also known as Doc Soc, also known as "Owner of the Laptop Urinal."
Doc Soc, or Doctor Soctor, as I like to call him, had planned to have his Northwing Freedom at the Ranch for me to try. Our mutual friend, Jeff James, who was to transport the glider, thought otherwise, and flew up instead of driving, leaving the Freedom behind.
That failure, I believe, spurred the Doc on in his desire to see me on a wing of his, and if not the Freedom, then his U-2. The Doc was most insistent that I give the wing a whirl.
Since I am a lowly hang 2, still somewhat reluctant to assertively distinguish between the fore and the aft of these craft, I was a tad timorous in my response. I had not yet tried the Sport 2, and wondered, aloud, whether I was capable of flying such a high performance wing. The Doc, being Doc, had no doubts, whatsoever. Whether he lacked doubt that I could fly it, or simply assumed if I went up I would, inevitably , come down, I do not know. But, as he put it, on more than one occasion, "Sack up, Monkey!" I do believe our fine Doctor Soctor is a fan of demolition derbies.
I made a number of flights on the Sport 2, and found it a pleasure to fly. No issues, other than a botched landing, resulting in a whack. Radwhacker and the Doctor proclaimed it so in sotto voce, always considerate of other's delicate sensibilities. The pleasure on Doc's face when he said he had seen the whack was clear, I was tempted to be the lawn dart again, just to provide needed amusement.
Soc persisted in his view that I must try the U-2, and insisted I would have no trouble with it. It was clear that my failure to fly the U-2 would be a failure to "sack up;" and woe be to all flying monkeys who are airborne without the ballast provided by aerodynamic testicles.
My concern, other than a certain sliver of doubt that the wing would prove reasonably stable, was that, as a hang 2, I would not be allowed to fly the U-2 by Malcolm, who is, without a question, very concerned about safety and his student's survival. Malcolm has been my teacher since day one, and I believed he would need to clear my flight.
Flash forward to the Saturday of the big party. Doc Soc pressed the issue of my flying his U-2 yet again, and noting the comforting presence of my testes, I agreed that I should give it a go. Off we headed, in the early afternoon, to the line up. I hooked my harness to the U-2, affixed my vario, and strapped into my harness, awaiting the tow rope. I hoped no issue would be made by anyone that I was going to fly the U-2.
My hope was short lived. As I had anticipated, the other instructors were well aware of my still novice ranking. Immediately I was told to put a fin on the glider. This did not trouble me, but Doctor Soctor was incensed. In Doc's view, the wind was low, the air was relatively clean, and the fin would just make me feel I was incapable of doing without for no purpose. He refused to agree that it be put on. I explained my position, happy with or without it, but let's put it on and make everyone happy. Eventually, Doc agreed, particularly because as time passed the winds were increasing.
Once we had the fin on I asked the instructors if they would hook me on to the next tug. Then the dreaded words came: "We need to get Malcolm's okay." Certainly I saw the sense in this, particularly from their perspective (if they okayed it and I blew it they would pay, not with liability but by engendering Malcolm's wrath).
Malcolm, unfortunately, for the first time, was nowhere to be seen at the launch line up. Forty odd minutes passed with me hanging there, waiting to get the word. My lovely wife began to pace. As I mentioned earlier, the winds continued to increase and get more squirrelly.
Malcolm finally arrived and was sent to speak to me, as I hung from the U-2 in my harness. He gave me a look and said, "Who is your instructor?" This was an easy one, and I got it right. "You are," I replied. "Who are you going to listen to?" he asked. I felt I could field that one, too. "I'm going to listen to you, Malcom," I stated.
"Curt, I hate to say this, but the winds are up, and when you make a transition like this, the fewer the variables the better. I can't let you fly."
I was... neutral. Hell, if he thought it was a bad idea, he knew a heckuva lot more than I did. "Malcolm," I said, "I hear you, and I know you are looking after my best interest, so no problem, where my safety is concerned, you know best." Then I looked at Doc Soc, who was crestfallen, apparently because there was no demolition derby about to commence. Facing the Doc, I added, "But I want Doc to know that not only did I sack up, I was ready to fly this wing. And, I wanted to fly it."
As I made my remark a tow plane was bringing the rope by. Malcolm looked at me and said, "Hook him up." He asked, "Are you ready to do this?" "Absolutely," I replied. The tow rope was attached to my bridle. The Doctor was grinning. Bets were being laid.
In the U-2 With The Tow Rope Attached
When the slack was pulled from the tow rope and the cart wheels were straightened, Malcolm said, again, "Are you ready?" My hands held the rubber hoses to the bottom of the glider's control bar, I consciously relaxed my muscles, while keeping my arms stiff enough to push the cart when things got rolling, and answered, "Ready to go!"
With that, Malcolm circled his arm in the go motion, and I began to trundle down the field. I followed Doc's instructions on release, and pulled up and away from the cart smoothly, well before the tow plane was airborne. I made an effort to bump my corrections, and not to hold them.
The Doc Places Bets
My tow up, as always with thermally air, was tricky, but I maintained my position. I noted that, even with the fin, there was a tendency to yaw, but it could be countered. I was pleased the fin was on the glider.
For me, the release of the glider is a joyful moment. Given the doubts others had about me flying the U-2, as well as my own concerns, made this particular release especially good. I began to circle, resplendent in my exhilaration, having been released into a thermal. I tried to stuff the bridle rope in my shirt, but found it just as easy to put it into the pouch of my harness, so gathered it and placed it there as I circled.
The U-2 displayed an interesting desire to turn into the thermals on its own. I had not known Doc had the auto pilot feature installed.
When the first thermal petered out, I yanked the VG on full and began to fly toward the other circling pilots. It was in the effect of the VG that I noted the most pronounced difference between this glider and the others I had flown. It was flying fast, and the sink was not nearly as rapid. Very, very nice. I tried some turns with the full VG. Reminded me of flying tandem, doable, definitely, but truck like. When I released the VG to half, to circle, it turned readily. Not as sweetly as the Sport 2, but not so differently as to be difficult. I actually liked it.
I boated about, getting as far away from the Ranch LZ as I had ever dared, and was happy to feel secure in expanding my zone. The U-2 instilled confidence that I could return to Wallaby, at full VG, with altitude to spare.
Returning to Wallaby
When I decided to head in for a landing, I intended to try to land on my feet. The icing on the cake. I began to search for the rope to release my legs when the vario hit 500 feet. I could not, for the first time on any flight, find the release rope. From below it must've looked like I had insects in my underwear, because I was slapping around my crotch with considerable enthusiasm while looking for the rope. I gave up at 350 feet, deciding it was time to roll in on the Doc's wheels.
Ready to Wheel In
I followed the Doc's instructions and pulled in for speed. There was a great deal more speed than my Falcon would've displayed, and more than the Sport 2 had gathered. As I descended I felt what I thought was a cross wind, but Dave told me I was PIOing as I came in. DbyD has the video. As I eased out the bar any PIOing or crosswind turbulence was smoothed out, and I rolled in on the wheels gently; ignobly no doubt, but proudly, nonetheless.
Later, as the big party was beginning to form, I ran into Malcolm. "Hey Malcolm," I said, "What made you change your mind to let me fly the U-2?" His answer felt like a pat on the back. "Well, it is an individual thing. First, you have more talent than a lot of pilots, but also, you had the confidence you could do it. I'm glad you didn't prove me wrong."
I shook his hand and said, "It was a blast, my friend, a stone blast." The other stones clacked loudly and comfortingly betwixt my legs.
Posted By: Lobido 16 Comments (Post your comment)
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Nickel, Dime and Quarter Gliders
Tue Feb 12, 2008 4:18 am
[ Mood: Silly ]
[ Currently: Reading ]
Others have posted about the glider build projects they made when young. All I ever flew were home made paper planes and store bought balsa wood airplanes.
In my day the balsa wood planes were 5 cents, 10 cents and the types with a propeller (rubber band motor) and wheels, 25 cents. I was too much the spendthrift to ever collect sufficient lucre to get beyond the 25 center. I did buy a whole lotta 5 centers. There was a real science to wing placement.
Oh yeah, there were a couple of manufacturers. One type had a wing that was one piece and fit through a slot in the fuselage. The other type had a split wing, assembled into a red plastic strip that connected to the top of the fuselage. The 10 center single wing was alright, but generally the split wing design was preferable. Had to be careful inserting the wings, slide them in to the red plastic piece, just so, if not done right the reward was a break or a split, man that would burn me up.
The splurge on the 25 center was mainly about the wind-up to triple knots to get a take off on the wheels. The drag of the prop and the wheels made the glide less fun than the less expensive versions.
Trees used to love to eat those buggers. The trees were both a pro and con. More dangerous to toss the gliders in their proximity, but they gave a sense of scale and geography to the flight that enhanced the experience.
Once in a great while, the little plastic sleeve the gliders were sold in would yield a magical glider. One that, when put together, would soar, unerringly, high and far, with a gentle lilt of graceful stalls. I remember one such 5 center to this day. When I threw it, it never skewed in trajectory, it just went up, way up. It would balance in the wind, wings tilting lightly left and right, its path varying in direction determined only by the wind, never by an arbitrary bend in the balsa wings. The flights were, in my 7 or 8 year old eyes, legendary. In my minds eye one of those flights, near some towering pines, is always available for replay, as a well traveled mental pathway that beckons me to my childhood.
Posted By: Lobido 4 Comments (Post your comment)
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Singing With Phantomflier
Tue Dec 04, 2007 9:27 pm
[ Mood: Hypnotized ]
[ Currently: Working ]
Former Firecracker Fondler started a thread on music people liked. In that thread Radwhacker posted the image of the cover of the cd of our own Phantomflier. This made me reminisce about my own period of vocal celebrity, which I directed at Phantomflier in light of his world renowned pipes. The following exchange ensued, one I deem blog worthy:
I have had my own brush with fame with regard to my singing.
When I was in 6th grade I moved to a school in Needham, Massachusetts, where I encountered, for the first time, choir. Everyone met as part of choir once a week for two hours. Everyone was in it. I met with the instructress to display my pipes, and sang not unlike a nightingale. I proudly returned to class, knowing full well my vocals would become the centerpiece of the ensemble.
When next choir met, my regular teacher pulled me aside to tell me that I had not been invited to participate in choir, and that I would need to remain in the regular classroom. My teacher was almost as disenheartened as I was, she had lost a two hour break, one she richly deserved, to oversee my once weekly, two hour, solitary choirlessness. I am certain my primate presence became a real comfort to her, in the long run.
As a result of my disenfranchisement, I became an object of curiosity to the other children. Just what the heck was wrong with my voice? Asked to demonstrate, I took great pleasure in belting out ear splitting soliloquies to entertain my peers. I was the bard of recess, the troubadour of the jungle gym.
But for my having a problem or two maintaining the proper key, which is simply to state that I do not seek to impose unnecessary boundaries on my vocal prowess, and the fact that I may have a few issues with timing, which is to say that I am capable of creative interpretation of the music at hand, I would be trodding the boards of Broadway with you. As it is, I am the Phantom of my shower, serenading my wife and dog with peals of my silvery singing. Their appreciation of my talent, expressed by my dog with an occasional howl, and by my wife with her strained, yet clearly pleased smile, is just a small reward for the pleasure I afford them.
In short, my friend, our kinship is palpable, and I look forward to recording a suitable duet.
Phantomflier kindly responded:
I was, of course, thrilled to have my invitation accepted with such alacrity. I posted the following:
Excellent. I will be sharpening my vocal repertoire!
My preparations continue. I have taken a modified Demosthenes approach, at the suggestion of my wife, and now sing arias in my shower with my mouth full of water. To do this effectively I must sing toward the ceiling, and my singing has somewhat of a gargling sound to it, with, sadly, a decrease in volume, but my wife says there is already an improvement. Remember what a great orator Demosthenes became when he removed the pebbles! I anticipate a similar refining of my technique when the gargling has been completed. Rauna has agreed to let me know when I have received the full benefit of this training regimen.
As soon as I am ready, I will contact Phantomflier to ready the recording studio. "Primate of the Opera" has such a nice ring to it.
Posted By: Lobido 21 Comments (Post your comment)
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Wallaby Ranch: A Primate Primer
Sat Oct 27, 2007 1:44 pm
[ Mood: Cool ]
Wallaby Ranch.The ultimate hang gliding aerotow park. When I first heard the name, I thought it was in Australia. Not so, it is located outside Orlando, Florida. Each time I visit seems better than the last.
I thought, given my particular fondness for the place, I should take you on my own tour, try to give you a sense of why it holds such an appeal for me.
I can begin with the normal stuff, it is on a country road, with a cool sign as you drive in proclaiming it to be what it is.
This is an early morning shot of the driveway throught the LZ, that is Laurie, the manager, and her dog, Lucy. They had walked to the entry gate to get the paper, we met them on the way in.
The physical plant consits of a semi jumble of wooden structures, some built by Malcolm, Wallaby's owner, some built by others, called "hooches." A hooch is a shelter, an improvised structure, by definition. The hooches are clustered around an area towards one end of the landing field, and the trees have been given dispensation to grow there, unmolested by saws. There is a kind of village feel to it all, mixed with a dash of treehouse, two dashes of 'guys with tools and some boards,' and just a pinch, or maybe just a whiff, of old hippie sensiblity.
The hooches are, in some instances, available to rent. There are also a number of trailers and campers available to let. Prices vary, but are less than the local hotels by a goodly margin. You can also camp there for a 5 buck charge. My wife and I stayed one night in a camper, but we decided we preferred not to share the restrooms with others, not because we were snobbish or unfriendly, but because we did not feel comfortable tieing up the facilities as we desperately worked to make our aged carcasses presentable to humanity. So, we tend to rent a condo, or stay at a nearby hotel, when we visit.
To one side of the jumble are the main areas, where the administration hooch is located, along with Malcolm's house, the climbing wall, and the cafeteria and pool. There is a picnic table under a large tree. I have a particular fondness for that tree, it is a pleasant tree, with spreading boughs that have had swinging chairs attached to them. I have whiled away some pleasant hours, talking to the Wallaby folks, friends and family, beneath that tree. If you are there without me, give it my regards.
The cafeteria is where people gather to eat, of course, but also to view videos on a big screen tv, to use their computers with the free wifi, to sip sodas, drink brews, and otherwise be in the shade and bug free. They serve breakfast at around 10:00 a.m., and it is cafeteria style with a reasonable selection of whatever the cooks have determined will be devoured. I much prefer it to restaurant fare. There is also an afternoon meal, served at 3:00 p.m., again, it is what they make, no menu, but always a good solid meal. Oh yeah, cheap, too. Presently $5.00 a plate, and no one counted my seconds.
Part of the trick to getting to the best part of Wallaby is to be politely assertive at the meals. Join a table of folks you don't know and stike up a conversation. Most are receptive, and even if they aren't, no big deal. The staff, from instructors to kitchen folks to tug pilots, are all good folks, and if not all equally affable, are at least willing to answer queries and to be helpful.
The hooch area is surrounded by a sea of mown grass, the landing zone and take off area for the tugs and gliders. Wind tell tales are set aound the area for guidance.
Instructional flights start at 8:00 a.m. A keystone cops like band of golf carts and similar vehicles buzz about taking folks to the appropriate launch area, determined by the prevailing wind. Gliders and tugs appear in an unspoken but well orchestrated meshing of purpose, and the training flights get underway. It is an exhilirating whirlwind of early morning activity. The students are all on adrenaline highs, and each flight and landing is watched for technique, and just because it is fun to see. As the winds pick up the time to learn departs, and the gang heads back toward the jumble in careening golf carts toward the cafeteria for breakfast. I sometimes chose to mosey back, the better to release some of my excess adrenaline.
If conditions are right the more advanced pilots gather around noon to get towed up into the thermals. The air has a much different feel once the thermals kick up, and out come the topless dream machines and the pilots with those weird, bird like, helmets. The real flying starts as they are pulled by the dragon flies onto the sky. They get up there and just keep going up, specks against the white cloud fluffiness.
Wallaby is Malcolm's kingdom, make no mistake about it. He rules his kingdom, but while he is clearly in command, he is at heart just another kid in love with things that fly. I had Malcolm as my instructor, almost exclusively. As he stated while we were doing a tandem, "This is my office, it has the best views any office is ever going to have." It was clear he loved to do what he was doing. To find Malcolm, look for the barefoot guy, wearing sunglasses, chewing gum. Malcolm is shown below, on the right.
Here is Malcolm starting a tandem instructional flight, note the bare feet.
Wallaby's clientele is interesting and varied. I have met Scots, Brazilians, folks from England, Germany and Australia there. All very different, with various levels of wealth and education, but all drawn to hang glider flight. Almost every person I have met has been worth meeting. Well, a couple of folks have rubbed me the wrong way, but they were the exception. The rest have offered their wisdom and friendship, almost without fail. Then again, I do have an attractive wife.
I am not a Disney fan. I view the park as a form of being herded while paying for the privilege, it is simply mindless, uncomfortable waiting for what are essentially a seriesof three dimensional movies they call rides, where you sit in a cart to move from scene to scene. That being said, my view of it is directly contrary to its self presentation, and the minions flock to it at a prodigious rate. On the positive side, it provides a place for others to go, and Orlando is rich with other similar escapist fare.
More interesting are the various parks where you can rent canoes and go exploring in the swamps. We hit a couple of places, one well run place, and the other a mess where the vehicle transporting us to the start point for canoeing became stuck up to its axle in the sand. Both places had their charms, especially if you enjoy seeing wild life in its natural habitat, as opposed to an animated facsimile on a plastic tree. We saw snakes and gators, birds and large spiders. It was pretty cool, until we were forced to portage the canoe, and in the process the two of us, and my cell phone, went under the water. Heck, it made for a great memory, even though it fried my phone.
Wallaby offers an opportunity to return to the kind of atmosphere you encountered when you went to summer camp, but this time you have your favorite sport acting as a focus. Oh yeah, and you can drink now, too.
When time to check out rolls around you encounter one more of Wallaby's charms. They have allowed you to eat drink and fly on your good word that you will pay before you leave. It is the honor system. You tell them your totals, and settle up. Kind of lets you leave with a smile on your face. It is nice to be trusted, and even better to be trusted while staying and playing at Wallaby.
Here is the office (and Lucy)
Overview, google earth:
Posted By: Lobido 3 Comments (Post your comment)
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Some Thoughts on a Few of the Women in My Life
Tue Sep 18, 2007 12:13 am
I have little of value to write about my favorite sport at this juncture. I had, however, written an old friend, not seen since I was a freshman in college, a note updating him on my life, and I focused upon a few of the ladies I had encountered along the way. It struck me that this might be interesting fodder for my blog. So, taking a breath for this plunge, here I go.
I have changed a bit over the years. I am, perhaps, a bit less full of myself. Given my chosen profession, the law, that is a bit miraculous, but I have tended to choose kindness over self aggrandizement where a choice has been available. I suspect this is where I am able to connect most thoroughly with Rauna, she is the kindest person I know. It is an amazing admixture in this girl, she is physically and spiritually beautiful. Who would think, after 17 + years, that I would still feel as though I was on my honeymoon? We tend to make our friends rather ill in that regard, but it is the most astonishingly wonderful part of my life.
When I met Rauna I was 32 years old, in 1988. I was convinced at that point that I would never find a perfect woman (or perfect for me, in any event), and would need to settle for a less than ideal relationship that would require work. To understand why, I must look back a few years.
In 1985 I had been married to my first wife, Lark, for 8 years, divorcing her at 29. She was a sweet girl, in fact, she was very special, but we did not have a similar joy in life, or perhaps just a discouragingly different way of expressing it.
I liked to make jokes and laugh, she was of a much more serious bent. It became clear to me that our relationship was missing a necessary component, so essential that I could not continue in it until death parted us. I wanted an easier, earlier exit.
We had separated in law school, in 1983, so I was effectively single again at 27. I was dealing blackjack in Lake Tahoe to pay my way through law school. I became, at that point, with my new found freedom, infected with nookie madness. Opportunity abounded. I bruised and abused many hearts in pursuit of the ultimate lay. I did the one nighters, and had relationships, and had an unfortunate willingness to mix and match (that is, to pursue more than one option at a time).
I emerged from my satyrhood with an appreciation of talent in the sack, yes indeed, but also with a longing for a person with a sweet soul to hang with, one who could put up with my personal quirks, and even love me for them. I knew this was an impossible dream, which was virtually proven by the string of semi long term relationships I entered and exited over the next few years.
I recall one girl, M..., who was a first year law student while I was a third year. We each lived in studio apartments that had an adjoining wall. I was seeing my hairdresser (I still had my hair), L...., who was a wild woman. L.... and I were...prone to make noise while prone. M.... had to endure our bouts (well, L....'s, really) of screaming on a nightly, daily and other times basis. Who woulda thunk this would turn her on?
Ultimately, when my father was visiting and I was on the outs with L...., who was just a touch mercurial, my father's snoring in my studio led me to ask M.... if I could sleep on her floor. She insisted I could sleep next to her. And I thought girls were innocents!
All of this by way of getting to a larger point, albeit the side light has its amusement value. I ended up in a fairly committed relationship with M... for a period. A gorgeous blue eyed blonde. We even lived together in Alaska.The relationship was miserable. I do believe she really wanted to kill me, but was biding her time. Perhaps that would be the ultimate payback for disturbing her sleep, I dunno.
But what got me was, I was nuts for her, found her wholly physically captivating, but God, it was like living in a meat grinder to try to love her. I mean, it was painful! You may never have experienced this kind of hell, to love a girl who claims to love you but makes life a pit of snakes.
Once, when my father was visiting me in Tahoe, M... was still in law school and was up to visit, I decided to have a party for my dealer buddys. M...., Pate (my father) and I went to the grocery store to get party provisions. I have a penchant for perusing the baskets full of dented and unlabeled items which are marked down for rapid sale. Upon digging through the same I came across a bottle of strawberry daiquiri mix, marked from 5 bucks down to a dollar. "Ah," I proclaimed, "this will be great for the party!"
M.... took a look and noted that the ingrediants were artificial. She said we would not use it at the party, and replaced it in the bargain basket. I picked it back up and said, "Okay, but I still want to try it." She picked it back out of my cart and said, "no, I don't like it," placing it back in the odds and ends basket. I retrieved it and said, "You needn't try it, I'll make it when you head back to school." She grabbed it again, returning it to the basket from whence it came, stating, "we are not buying this." I again retrieved it and said, " I am paying for it, I am trying it, I am not forcing it on you, and I am buying it." She refused to speak to me through the rest of our shopping trip.
As my father and I strolled the aisle with her keeping her distance, he leaned over to me and said, "She's just like your mother!" A terrifying statement, indeed.
The incident I have related was the way it was as a whole for the relationship. But, I was in love! Good God. I almost married her.
When I finally extracted myself from that addiction, I was fairly certain that I was destined to have a life of good nookie and poor interpersonal relating. My next semi long termer, D....., helped drive that home. My oh my, the tales beg to be told, but my fingers, and no doubt your patience, grow weary.
When Rauna and I first got together I thought she must be faking it. No one could be that nice, and be so beautiful. I watched her for the demons to emerge. She has hidden them from me for a record period now, and I have started to drop my guard. In truth, it was so nice to never have to raise it.
I have run on a bit. I will desist so that I may ruminate, with superior smugness, over my unreasonably good fortune. I will metaphorically pat my large belly and puff my cuban cigar, grinning in, if not exactly well earned, at least wholly appreciated, self satisfaction.
Posted By: Lobido 2 Comments (Post your comment)
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Sun Aug 05, 2007 6:13 pm
Since I have now been back for over a week, and I will not be hang gliding in the near future, I must turn my attention elsewhere, or suffer some sort of an attack. I noticed that some of our cactus are blooming, and snapped some shots.
That one only blooms at night, and does so for a short period once a year.
The same is true for the next one, this is quite a blossom. My wife gave it rabbit ears to give you a sense of it's size.
To me, that is pretty cool. We lack a green thumb, this stuff was here when we purchased the place.
This next photo is of a plant that is related to a another plant that forms a hedge in our yard. The hedge and this plant have somewhat different colored blossoms.
I'll finish with a vine's flower I did not include in the first post:
I may take some snaps of my socks. I have a nice variety, suitable for every occasion.
Lobido, the flying monkey
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Sat Jul 28, 2007 10:43 am
[ Mood: Sleepy ]
I just returned from Wallaby Ranch. It was a great trip. I met some great folks, and had an opportunity to hang a bit with Mick (cat's butt) Cotts, and his lovely bride.
Got some great tips from a fellow named Alan. Met him, his most excellent spouse, Pat, and their great kid, a young man named Oliver, at the Ranch. These folks are people I am pleased to know. Anyhow, Alan saw me land rather close to the area where the tow carts were sitting. I had the last flight of the morning and did not want to carry the glider any great distance, so being the lazy man that I tend to be, I just chose to land where I would exert myself as little as possiible. Alan correctly pointed out that I had left myself little extra room, and a bump of air would have resulted in a landing atop the tow carts. A point well made, I will exercise better judgment in the future.
My last flight was wonderfully memorable. I was given the go ahead by Malcolm to fly with the big boys in the more interesting air in the afternoon. Here I am, awaiting the arrival of the tugs.That is the Ranch Falcon 2 I piloted behind me. I found it amusing to have the Falcon I would fly amidst all the fancy craft the experienced pilots were flying.
Some of the more sophisticated gliders, with me in front ready to be towed:
Speaking of experienced pilots, this is Mike Barber fine tuning his glider.
He and Mick Cotts and some others had set a task they planned to compete on completing. I was pleased to be flying with these guys, even if the odor of a cat's posterior wafted heavily in the air, and even though I knew I would likely see them only in the distance.
Mike and Mick showed me the courtesies of gaggle flying. They actually demonstrated by having us walk in circles to show how to properly merge into a thermal already occupied by other pilots. It was extremely helpful.
Here is Mr. Cotts, wearing his knickers around his ankles.
And among these paragons of the flying world strolled the near demi god that was myself.
My first tow was more difficult than the morning tows I had gotten used to. However, it was tolerable. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a a thermal, and took a sled ride down.
My next tow was a real challenge. The tug was bouncing in one direction as my glider and I bounced in another. The nose of the glider wanted to shoot up so strongly that my only recourse was to go beyond pulling the nose in to actually pushing the bar back with my arms fully extended. I had to maintain that posture for such a long period my arms were shaking. When the signal to release was finally given I was one happy camper. Here are some tow up shots:
Once I was on my own I began to use the vario for the first time. It was fascinating, it added an extra dimension to the sky. Now I knew whan I was going up, down, or just maintaining. When I heard my first series of beeps I was grinning from ear to ear. I started circling, trying to define the thermal and to remain within its limits. The air was bumpy in parts, and smooth in others. I boated about looking for the happy up beeps. I am a speck in this photo:
And a speck in the center of this one:
I am a bit more visible here, next to the Wallaby meal bell tower.
Check out the great clouds I was flyng near! It was a perfect day to begin to thermal.
While I was up there one of the pilots with a more advanced wing entered a thermal I was in below me. It was so cool to watch him as he circled below and opposite me. I thought he would zoom up past me, but I kept on top (not, of course, by virtue of any skill on my part). He left for other lift sources after a period, but sharing a thermal made the whole experience even better.
I also soared with the birds. Prior to thermaling I had suspected that thermaling with birds was an unusual experience. Apparently I was wrong. I found a thermal by seeing a bird circling below me, another where a bird was above me, and a third where a bird was on my level but a distance from me. It was both fascinating and somehow humbling to see them in their element as I clumsied along near them, seeking to steal their knowledge.
I flew for over an hour and topped out somewhere below 4000 feet. I cannot be very accurate, the vario I used was not set properly, so I had to rely on the estimates of the other pilots, and I was not watching my watch.
Here I am on final:
Arms raised in celebration of an excellent introduction to the world of thermaling.
I am pleased I was able to have the thermaling experience, I had a true blast! I can't wait to improve my skills and to do a task.
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Around The House
Sun Jul 15, 2007 7:45 pm
[ Mood: In Love ]
Rauna and I are just a week away from our Wallaby trip!
Spent this weekend taking care of the yard until some weather rolled in. Each of us, at odd times, grabbed the digital camera to take shots of the flowers and plants around the house.
Can't remember what most of these are called. If you have a clue, let me know.
This next close up is of a passion fruit vine flower. We have passion fruit vines growing up in our mahogany trees. They are dropping lots of fruit, and if you like passion fruit, they are very tasty.
The photo below is a shot up into our flamboyant tree. Aptly named. These bloom once a year for a period of months.
The flower below is a desert rose. They bloom off and on through out the year.
Unless there are a host of horticulturalists out there, I suspect I am boring you to tears. My hope is my next blog will have a little something to do with hang gliding. Hey, I had another dozen photos, I spared you that.
Lobido, the Flying Monkey
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Learning to Aero Tow
Tue Jul 10, 2007 9:45 pm
[ Mood: Happy ]
[ Currently: Listening to my wife sleeping ]
Learning to tow took me by surprise. I read the starter books, the one for the beginner and the one for performance flying, before heading to Wallaby to try towing for the first time. The books were helpful, particularly with the concept of the coordinated turn, but I did not expect towing to require the skills it did, and neither book focused upon the towing issues sufficiently to place me ahead of the curve.
My biggest problem was pilot induced oscillation. In other words, as we were towed I tended to move back and forth because of over corrections. Malcolm told me to loosen up, but it was Mike Barber (he of the distance record fame) who, one morning at breakfast, really cured me of my rigidity, and thus my PIO.
Mike had me grip a couple of salt shakers very tightly, and then asked me to identify which was heavier. I could not tell which shaker was the full one when I was holding the shakers tightly. He then told me to hold them in a relaxed grip. The difference in their weight was immediatly apparent when I relaxed my grip.
It probably seems ridiculous and self evident that too much tension interferes with your ability to distinguish subtleties, but it was a very helpful lesson for me. Once I loosened up I was able to feel the glider's inputs and respond both more quickly and more appropriately, avoiding the oscillations.
For those who have not towed, being towed is a great experience. I loved various parts of it, and genuinely liked the rest. Taking off on the wheels was just plain satisfying. The feeling of the glider gaining lift, and the flying of the glider even prior to lift off was a stone gas.
I also loved it when the tug pilot would give the release signal, the series of events thereafter were gratifying to all the senses. First, just after release you hit the tugs wake. Not always, but almost so. It is necessary to increase the glider's speed by pulling the nose down a little to meet the wake correctly. The wake is akin to the wake of a boat, and it was possible to visualize it while bumpily passing through it.
As part of the post release sequence the tug dives out of the sky, while you hang there. That visual was always fantastic. The sight of the tug spiralling down, followed by the tow rope gave a visual reference of heighth and depth, and just looked way cool. I never tired of the sight.
The flight down was unfailingly fun, but I will not rhapsodise about that, I guess it is kind of a given.
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