Sunday, September 30, 2007

If it's not a person...

So, my husband and I went climbing today. Beautiful fall day, and we hiked up 2 hours to the top of a local mountain to rock climb. The place where we climbed has some great granite cracks, and he wanted to do a few. So I agreed to go as an anniversary present (it's a 2 hour hike uphill one way, carrying gear, so it's a trek). There was noone in the area we went to, partly because it's all overgrown, and it was silent.

We did one climb, and he tried the second pitch and decided it wasn't to be that day. So we went back down, and were figuring out what to do next when we hear some rustling. It sounded like a person - not a deer - so he called out 'hello there'. His back was to the bushes/trees and all of a sudden I see a black furry head with a brown snout no more than 15 feet away. BLACK BEAR! I just said, it's a bear, whatdowedo whatdowedo whatdowedo, as I walked up the hill against the rock. My husband a little stressed, but not too bad, says to me, you treat it like a big dog - oh, you dont like those either - and roared and jingled the gear to scare it away. So, it went away.

We just stood there looking at each other and laughing a little bit in amazement. And started cleaning up again, and thinking again about what to do.

Then I as I'm looking at him standing looking at the climbing book, I see a black head peer around a tree from the other direction. And screamed (because I knew it was ok to make noise). My husband jumped around and picked up a small rocks and threw them towards the bear, roaring again. So the bear walked off again. And we started thinking, maybe we shouldn't stay around anymore.

And then I see some movement of black between the two spots the bear had appeared before, screamed again, and this time my husband picks up a BIG rock and throws it towards the bear, tells me to pack everything up quickly while he makes sure the bear doesn't come back yet again. We hightailed it out of there, roaring all the way.

We saw some Search and Rescue guys on the way down, and they said there were a couple juveniles wandering around that were too inquisitive for their own good and/or maybe someone had fed them. CRAZY! But the one we saw was pretty damn big, so not sure it was the same one.

Please don't ever feed wildlife.

Friday, September 28, 2007

A Virgin No More - Meme

Thank you Susan for sending me into the world of meme's. It didn't hurt too much. :-)

1. You've just had that "I'm naked in public" nightmare again. Where exactly were you naked at? Who all was there? Were you embarrassed or rockin' out with your co..well, you get the point.
Um, I've never had that nightmare and never will likely. I'm a closet exhibitionist. :-) But even if it happened out of the blue (boom! I'm naked) I'd likely just smile and wave and either go on about my business or saunter away. Maybe I'd show people near me my bestest bruise of the moment. (I'm making the assumption that I wouldn't get attacked because I'd be naked - otherwise I'd run like hell!) Later, alone, I might freak out. Or might not... Depends on whether people looked at me with disgust and horror, or just simply shock. No matter what, it would be nice to be the center of attention. :-)

2. What's one moment in your life that changed the way you live it? Do you wish this had never happened or are you glad?
A moment. A single moment. Hmmm... One is when I truly gave up 99% of hope that the love of my life would never want to be with me. It made me put on a pretty stiff mask to say f-you to the world - you can't hurt me, I'm a burly girl inside and out. It took a long time for that to start balancing out. Of course I wish it had never happened. I would have rather been met with open arms/heart/mind/soul, and had the rest of his life with him (the 4 or so years it was to be).

3. They say everyone has one musical artist that could sing the soundtrack to their life. Who's your artist?
I'm sorry, but there's no way one artist could sing the soundtrack of my life. I tried, really, for this meme, but I'd be forcing it, and didn't want to do that. Mine is a compilation. So the below is the song/artist for each of the moments requested.

love scene: Well, the sex would be like the post a couple of posts ago. Otherwise, i carry your heart (Michael Hedges) [me and my poems set to music]
rock bottom sad scene: Everybody Hurts (REM); Don't Give Up (Peter Gabriel) [theme: rock bottom with hope and support]
moment of enlightenment scene: Only the Good Die Young (Billy Joel) [I tried so hard to be the good girl growing up, but this song let me realize that I could/should let the little devil out a bit more, and I suppose let the devil in some too, and have fun, dammit!]
closing credits: You Learn (Alanis Morrisette) [because everything you do, you learn from - past, present, future.]

4. You just went snorkeling. You're enjoying all the fishes when all the sudden you're eaten by a whale! What do you find on the insides of the whale? Who all is hangin' out in there?
Oh, inside is a wonderful party, filled with various persons/creatures interested in the sea, all getting to know each other. Jacques Cousteau, a giant squid, Nemo (Captain and little fishy Nemo), Kevin Kline (he was in Pirates of Penzance on broadway), Sherman of Sherman's Lagoon, Johnny Depp, etc. (who else??) I think the squid's going to win the arm-wrestling contest.

5. You're running late for a drink with one of your blogland people. They call you because they think you've stood them up.
What's their ringtone?
RESPECT (Aretha Franklin)
Who is it and why on earth did you say yes to the invitation in the first place? It's Susan of course. And I said yes because I want to see the famous boobs in person and because we're going to go off and get drunk together and sing all the words to all the songs we know all night.

Interview rules:

1. If you would like to participate, leave me a comment saying "Interview me."

2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.

3. Update your blog with a post containing your answers to the questions.

4. Include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.

5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you ask them five questions

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I am not a rat

I did a search recently on tickling, because I'm one of very few people I know that really doesn't like to be tickled. I've gotten into BIG trouble twice for how hard I smacked someone when they tried to tickle me.

In any event, I came across this interesting article about rats and tickling. They enjoy it!

See for yourself.

But I *am* a squirrel. I either read or heard sometime that if you're driving down the road and a squirrel runs into the road, don't stop because he's timed it to make it across. And though I haven't googled it, I tend to believe it. Yesterday on the way home, went through a reddish-yellow light (cough), and trying to beat the cars that were starting to turn, and make it through the pedestrians that were trying to cross, and one damn woman stops dead in her tracks in the middle of the intersection when I had figured out where to go by the speed she was walking. I almost slammed right into her! I screamed and made it around, but DAMN, it was close - there was no braking to be had.

Speaking of squirrels, there's no squirrels in Australia, so the couple I met in Mexico stopped to feed them/take pictures. Ugh. Squirrels are just rats with furry tails - yucky.

But wait, but how can I be a squirrel then and not a rat??
[smoke is now coming out of ears] does not compute...

Note to Self - Biking and Pedestrians

OK, ALWAYS announce you are coming/going to pass. Pedestrians are unpredictable - in their own little worlds and just because they might start heading one way doesn't mean they can't stop dead in their tracks and decide to go the other way. And it doesn't help if you like to go as fast as you possibly can. It just might lead to you slamming on your brakes to only sort of bump the pedestrian, and you flying off your bike. Sigh. At least I didn't blame it on the pedestrian, which I had one biker do to me once.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Warped Animation

Dick and Jane NOT for kids

I don't know why I thought of this this morning. But I remember when I saw it in the movie theater - my mouth was gaping the entire time, and I was just shaking my head, amazed. It's incredibly twisted - BEWARE. I love animation festivals where you can see things like this juxtaposed next to beautiful, serene, funny, or dark films.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Rimbaud poem - first evening

first evening

Her clothes were almost off;
Outside, a curious tree
Beat a branch at the window
To see what it could see.

Perched on my enormous easy chair,
Half nude, she clasped her hands.
Her feet trembled on the floor,
As soft as they could be.

I watched as a ray of pale light,
Trapped in the tree outside,
Danced from her mouth
To her breast, like a fly on a flower.

I kissed her delicate ankles.
She had a soft, brusque laugh
That broke into shining crystals -
A pretty little laugh.

Her feet ducked under her chemise;
"Will you please stop it!..."
But I laughed at her cries -
I knew she really liked it.

Her eyes trembled beneath my lips,
They closed at my touch.
Her head went back; she cried:
"Oh really! That's too much!

"My dear, I'm warning you..."
I stopped her protest with a kiss
And she laughed, low -
A laugh that wanted more than this...

Her clothes were almost off;
Outside a curious tree
Beat a branch at the window
to see what it could see.

This is from an album called Sahara Blue, an album inspired by the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud, produced and arranged by Hector Zazou. This particular 'song' is spoken word, with music, and some breathing.

From a site: Structurally, SAHARA BLUE is all over the proverbial map. Spoken word dialogues reverberate over gentle ambient atmospherics and glacial guitar ("First Evening"), crunchy tech-hop ("I'll Strangle You"), tribal pop-funk ("Youth"), and gentle, world-pop lullabies ("Black Stream"). It's a deliciously eclectic stew, magnificently composed and played, with Zazou as the ringmaster expertly corralling his troops for optimum sonic pleasure.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Declaration of Imperfection

I cannot and will not be perfect.

Ah, so easy to type, but so difficult to live. Especially when you are impacted by the following:
- Catholic church - where you must recognize and atone for every mistake in order to get into heaven
- Catholic school teachers - who ask you why you are not as well behaved as your brothers and sister before you, and why you do not get as good grades as them
- Parents - who, when you come home with an A- on a test, ask why you didn't get an A
- A family life that focused on catching others' mistakes and rubbing it in their faces.

The quest for perfection has impacted my entire being. I have had a tendency to think through a situation 15 steps in advance, and try and anticipate what might go wrong so that I can take proactive steps to ensure that things don't go wrong. I can be afraid of making mistakes because it seems like a character flaw, which stifles moving forward. For a long time I was afraid to express my opinions or feelings, lest I not say something right or hurt someone.

Let me tell you, it's exhausting to be that way, and I didn't realize how much until the past several years. I always whine about my weak body, but to a certain extent, it's pretty damn strong considering all the stress I've placed on it over the years in my quest for perfection. But note that the above are all the extremes, because somewhere in high school I started consciously letting go of the quest for perfection and wanted to learn about being imperfect and the joys it might bring. I have chosen activities and jobs that I knew I could not be perfect in. For example, I should have been an engineer or some sort of scientist, but I went the humanities route. (Of course, choosing to do this brings its own kind of stress!)

Over time, my activities have brought lessons.
- rock climbing - it's the relationship between you and the rock that matters. You are not someone else - e.g., you aren't tall and can't reach that hold, so how can YOU get there? each part of the journey is important and exciting, and you must concentrate enough to ensure your safety, but enjoy otherwise
- quilting - people see the whole, and it's the whole that matters. Usually only you can see the mistakes. But the mistakes are what also give it character.
- sky diving - Relaxation corrects most mistakes in freefall. Fear will always be there, but you must learn how to manage it. If you are alive, it's been a good jump.

But there are times in my life when I forget the lessons I have learned about imperfection and I fall back on the old expectations. Usually in times of stress. I'm thinking about all this because I came home last night with a migrane, and had to lie in bed instead of going over friends' house as planned, which I so wanted to do. I'm a new supervisor, and thus not perfect, and it's been driving me nuts. I have too much to do at work and don't have the systems set up to keep track of everything that needs to be taken care of, and I want to immediately know how it should be done. My marriage is not perfect, and never will be, but what type of imperfection do I want to live with? And that's driving me nuts.

There's been some discussion of faith over at Fringes' place. For some, faith in a higher being sometimes does help you get through difficult times, and is sometimes very difficult to hold on to. Faith in oneself is equally as difficult, for some, like me, but equally as important. For a time I lost almost all that faith, and it led to the extreme of wanting to give up all and kill myself, but thankfully there was a kernel of faith left that led me out of that hole. Some may call it perseverance, but I like to think that it was a kernel of faith. What helps build that faith for me is a belief that it's ok to not be perfect, that you can ask for help, but that's still so hard sometimes to believe in. The journey is a source of joy and growth, and while pain is a part of that process, it does not need to be held onto.

And these are some of the lessons I'm trying to learn.

While this post was for me to figure myself out, I'd love to hear in comments what it makes you think.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Sister Harriet

For the first 7 grades of my schooling, I went to a Catholic school. Ah, what tales I could tell. But this one is about Sister Harriet.

Sister Harriet was my English teacher in 7th grade. She was a short, forbidding figure who really knew her stuff and made sure her students knew it too (without hitting anyone - or at least that I remember...maybe I've blocked it out). These were the days of diagramming sentences, which you youngsters don't do anymore (I don't think). I actually loved diagramming sentences (geek, or is it nerd?), and learned so much about grammar from it.

I also had drilled into me the importance of good spelling, proper usage of words, etc. That's why I'd make a good editor, or at least I used to. As I get older I slip more and more, and each time I do, I can just see Sister Harriet rolling over in her grave, or even perhaps flipping me off from heaven.

Oh, and btw, no, she did NOT look like the flying nun. I'm not even sure I remember her ever smiling!

[and, for G, then we kissed]

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What happens when you bike to work

So, something that happens when you bike to work is that you sometimes forget a key article of clothing. (Actually, most articles of clothing are pretty key at work, so pretty much anything you forget is an issue.) I leave all of my work shoes at work so I never have to worry about that.

Yesterday I forgot my shirt. It just so happens I had a shirt at work that went with what I brought to wear. Whew. But in the past month or two, I've also forgotten my bra, which can be more of an issue, but again, thankfully I'm an A so I can slouch or cross my arms and be sort of ok. (Though to get a smile and a shake of the head out of the receptionist, I did jump up and down in front of her...just to be weird and I suppose exhibitionist) [note to self: I have to bring in other articles of clothing to leave at work just to be safe.]

When I first started biking to work at my very first job after graduate school, the office suite had a shower. Which was GREAT. The only problem was, I have a tendency to run a little behind in the morning. So one morning I finished showering, picked up all my crap, and ran to 'my' office (shared). A few minutes later the Vice President of the company walks in dangling my sweaty underwear between two fingers - "I think these might be yours". Ack! Luckily they were in decent shape. But boy, what dedication she had to pick them up. Or something.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Speaking of Zombies

Theres a great interview on WFMU of 80 year old drummer Sam Ulano. You can listen in on the archives if you want. From WFMU's site:

Legendary percussionist Sam Ulano will be Irwin's guest TODAY from noon until 3 PM. Known as "Mr. Rhythm," Ulano has played and recorded with the top names in traditional jazz, and in the 1950s made TV appearances on The Tonight Show with Steve Allen and the Ernie Kovacs Show. In the 40s and 50s, he recorded a series called "Drum's Fairy Tales," in which he played wild percussion solos while simultaneously reciting hepcat Mother Goose. Oh, and he once gigged with Public Image Ltd. Hear about all of it this week on Irwin's program, when Sam stops by with recordings and recollections from a lifetime behind the drum kit.

Checked out Sam Ulano's website -

I once heard someone say that a person without music in their life is a walking zombie. I’m not certain that all of us need music, but I feel music can do so much for us. It makes us want to dance and it makes us happy and makes us laugh and sometimes makes us sad. I know one thing—MUSIC REACHES INTO OUR HEARTS AND MINDS. It touches all of our emotions and then brings about many different effects in our lives.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Let's make a quilt

So, I mentioned that I have to make a quilt in three months. Well, I'll talk a bit about the process here. The photo here is something I pulled off the internet over a year ago. What I want to make is something inspired by this - a mountain road with trees on either side with a view of the mountain directly in front of you.

The reason I chose this image is because when I went to visit my brother in Washington state, we went on this gorgeous hike up to a glacier. I'll see if I can find the name of it. But on the way there, driving down a road, I saw such an image in front of me, and thought that it would make a great quilt.

So, I'm trying it out. What I have done with every quilt I've made is try some new technique so that I learn something new (and since they are never for me I don't have to look at the mistakes for the rest of my life). Well, this one is new because it'll be queen size so HUGE. But I'm also going to use a lot of thread to 'paint' on the picture when I quilt it, and in addition, use some fabric paint at the end.

But right now what I have to do is create the base. So I've separated the image into 5 sections: the sky, the mountain, the trees on one side of the road, the road, and the trees on the other side of the road. I've made a scale model sketch (whatever 60"x80" down to a paper size is). For each section I will create 'fabric' and cut the section out from this fabric.

Right now I'm making the mountain material. About 5 or 6 different grays, doing a traditional pattern - start with a block, then add a strip of fabric around and around. I think I need to make it about 20"x30" or so, and I'm almost there...

A Dangerous Morning

I'm lucky to be alive. Half asleep this morning, walked into the bathroom, and POUNCE, a mountain lion jumps me. It had waited patiently on the top of the door for its prey to arrive - ie, ME. Luckily, after screaming and being knocked to the ground, my instincts kicked in and I fought hard with the beast. Even more luckily, I had not yet fed my cats, so they had an incentive to help me subdue it. So Cleo and Billy, the magical kitties that they are, took over the fight with the mountain lion as I huddled in a heap in the corner. They were able to use their magic to transform this vicious, hungry, heavy creature into a 5 inch long stuffed cuddly thing. Before the magic disappeared, they looked at me with an intense stare and said 'double rations'. I was so grateful, I ran downstairs and gave them each their own can of cat food, petting them in thanks, before tending to my wounds. I was a little late for work. What a morning... My husband needs to check his pack more carefully before bringing it into the house.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Not Surprising but Oh So Sad - Zimbabwe

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- Pets are being slaughtered for meat in shortage-stricken Zimbabwe and record numbers of animals have been surrendered to shelters or abandoned by owners no longer able to feed them, animal welfare activists say.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said it could not feed surrendered animals or find them new homes and was being forced to kill them and destroy the corpses.

Yeah, the media is blowing the issue up to get ratings, but in this case I don't mind. More attention needs to be paid to what is going on in Zimbabwe and get Mugabe out of there. I have a photo that I recently enlarged of twin boys on a bus out in the rural areas of Zimbabwe - It's so sad to wonder if they are still alive. They would be about 20 years old now.

Not a mountain lion in sight

I realized when I called my brother this morning (to tell him about my poor other brother, who's being RIF'd !!!) that I haven't followed up on whether my husband survived his hike. He did - not a mountain lion in sight! Only a bear that looked like a log until it moved, and had absolutely no interest in this human being walking by him. Guess I can cancel that extra insurance policy, for now. He comes back Sun. AM on the red eye, and will likely want to go out biking or climbing, because dammit time changes don't affect him.

BTW, I think cell phones are great. I could call my brother, and he was in the boat fishing. And I could picture exactly where he was. Nice.

Happy Weekend one and all...

Seen on the streets

A Paris Hilton wanna be - long blonde hair, big sunglasses. And it's casual Friday, honey, but that doesn't mean you can wear a tan, semi-see-through skirt with your black thong. Leaving nothing to the imagination at work. Guess you're trying to get a head.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Bestest Favoritest Bike shirt

I have a new bestest favoritest bike shirt. What's great about it? I feel like I'm biking topless! Air flow is great. It's tight but loose - so thus not binding, but doesn't expose either. It's wicking. It has a pattern on the front for those pesky times when the headlights come on. I love it. Who woulda thunk? (btw, I'm only an A so I can do this)

That's all. Thought I'd share. Maybe I'll pitch the concept to York Peppermint Patties.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Green Flash at Sunset

Last year I went to Olympic National Park. I had just read about the green flash at sunset, for some reason (scroll down on the link to read). And so I was watching at sunset, and just so happened to use my binoculars to look, and I SAW IT! It was sooo coool.

Photo credit.

Another good link on green flashes.

Disclaimer: Blogger will not be held responsible if you burn your retinas staring at the sun...


OK, I think I've been pondering enough, and this is my conclusion. My meltdown was about a lot of things:
- skydiving and feeling inadequate
- being a supervisor and feeling inadequate in the role
- having my performance review Tues. and feeling/knowing my performance has been inadequate
- being at home with my husband and having things be better but perhaps still inadequate (do I care that he's away?)
- being around friends with recent babies or up and coming babies and feeling inadequate (41 and married and no baby)
- needing to make a queen size quilt in 3 months, and feeling inadequate because I haven't started the damn thing yet

Notice a trend? :-) It all combines to being overwhelmed, and skydiving is the most intense thing thus I can blame it all on that. I've self medicated with dark chocolate today, and will move forward (okay Susan?! :-) ) I don't want to get stuck.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

You can get away with anything with this look

Just call me Special Kay

There's a lot to be said for crying alone. I personally need it once in a while. I can cry for as long as I want or need. I can be as loud as I want, look as disgusting as I want, have snot all over the place. I can be calm for a few moments and then break out in sobs again. I don't have to worry about someone being uncomfortable and feeling like they need to fix things. I don't have to stop for someone else...I stop because it's time to.

So, I cried for a half hour this morning. It wasn't because it is September 11 - I did enough crying for that at the time. I cried because I was coming to terms with the fact that I can't continue skydiving (and also a little bit of dealing with the fear I felt). Writing that, it seems so shallow, but oh well. I've been numb since Saturday, and thinking about everything, and talking over it somewhat with people. It just moves too quickly for me. I've felt rushed since day 1, lesson 1, and I've managed to keep up somewhat, but doing two dives in a day just blew me over the edge.

The problem is I don't have a trust fund. I didn't win the lottery. I don't have unlimited funds. In order for me to be able to do this in a way that I can deal with it, I think I'd need double the amount of skydives that they require. I need more time talking over the issues and concepts, and the instructors don't have that time. I need more hand holding.

I will of course go back for one more skydive. Pride. I don't want to be known as the chick who gave up because she had one bad skydive. Wussy girl. And I want to say bye and thank you to the crew, since they are good people.

Why did I cry so much? Because I feel weak. I acknowledge my weaknesses, but I don't like them. My brain is weak and my body is weak. Yes, everything is relative, and I'm much stronger than some people. But sometimes I feel 'challenged' (hence the name Special Kay - I have this personal joke that I'd name my kids Kay and Ed, and they'd be very 'special'). It makes me feel sad...but at least I'm un-numbed.

[Thinking about this more, it has to be more than what I wrote above. I think I'm coming down off my last several months of stress...]

Monday, September 10, 2007

And finally, I'm networked!

Networked Operational Replicant Engineered for Galactic Repair, Exploration and Thorough Sabotage

And while I'm at it

Nefarious, Orphan-Reaping, Explorer-Grabbing Ravager from the Enchanted Twisted Sanctuary

Get Your Monster Name

Because Susan did it

Nocturnal One Readily Exchanging Glorious Recreation and Erotic, Thrilling Stimulation

Get Your Sexy Name

The only error is, I'm not nocturnal... :-)

In the news today - Pain management in developing countries

Drugs Banned, Many of World’s Poor Suffer in Pain

Paragraphs from the article:

Like millions of others in the world’s poorest countries, she is destined to die in pain. She cannot get the drug she needs — one that is cheap, effective, perfectly legal for medical uses under treaties signed by virtually every country, made in large quantities, and has been around since Hippocrates praised its source, the opium poppy. She cannot get morphine.
At pain conferences, doctors from Africa describe patients whose pain is so bad that they have chosen other remedies: hanging themselves or throwing themselves in front of trucks.

Very very sad.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Overstimulation - or jumps 4 and 5

So, this weekend I did two jumps in one day. I caved to peer pressure, and also just thought I'd try it because maybe I was wrong about needing to only do one jump in a day. I was there, the weather was great, I had no special reason to head home early, so I stayed.

Well, depending on how you look at it, it was either good or bad.

Jump #1 went fine and dandy.
Jump #2 didn't.

Although it sucked in one way to have a bad jump, in another way, as someone said, it was about time I ran into trouble up there so I could know what I would do, wouldn't do, could do, should do, etc.

Jump #1 was scheduled to be a repeat of the last one, though this time with only one instructor. I wrote last time about how nervous I was with the thought of going out with only one person. Well, when I first got there I saw one of my past instructors and as I chatted with him I said how nervous I was. He showed me the technical thing I should do when I exit to make sure I exited well (extending legs).

And then it turned out the Gnome was there. So of course I had to jump with the Gnome. We had had a back and forth on mental tricks, and so he focused more on the mental side of jumping, and relaxing. On the plane we just kind of sat there, and it was a new experience not having someone check in constantly and go over signals. I thought it was just a lazy Gnome thing, but turns out this jump is the starting point for becoming more independent, as in the second jump I was also left alone a bit.

The Gnome started on the outside and I was left inside alone to do the check in/out, and then read set arch. And it was fairly uneventful. Weird to have a Gnome hovering beside me, but that's it (of course, he only tells me later that he had to push my arm somewhat to make sure I didn't go backwards - see story below). I noticed when he let go, and all was fine, and all I had to do was fall. (altitude, arch, legs, relax). Pull time came quickly, and my chute was open.

The winds were calm and all was well, and I did great in my landing. I could have landed feet up, but had wanted to practice a parachute landing fall, so I fell over, and was not a problem. The Gnome came over and showed me what to do with the brake handles to make the chute packers's life easier (and thus like you more), and we walked on back.

I ate lunch. A much too heavy lunch (pork bbq) - picked up at the local gas station, next door to which is a house with a porch facing the station, upon which sat two old men in rockers, watching life go by. I waved, they waved. Back at the ranch, someone put on Robot Chicken as I was preparing for jump 2, which got me in trouble by my instructor. Supposed to be preparing to jump! Go check your gear! Oops...but it did help to have one of the images in my head to make me laugh along the way.

Jump #2 (first jump in D category) I had to do my first spotting from the plane to check and make sure we are in the right place. That means standing by the open space, looking at the horizon in front of you then down 90 degrees, then looking to the right or left at the horizon, then down 90 degrees. This is to see exactly where you are in relation to the ground, and to know that you are exiting the plane where you want to exit (depending on calculations of wind speed, direction, etc.).

But I got the whole deal. First off I was sitting on the front floor of the plane near the exit, rather than on a bench. Not used to that, and you have to be more aware of not bumping into things and accidentally pulling some essential cord. Then I learned about the light signals, and learned I would help open the door when the time came. Sitting by an opening holding on to nothing... He reminded me what he had said about the wind is more likely to push you back in at that point. Still scary. And with the door open, holding onto a bar, and searching for where you want to start jumping. We weren't going to be the first out either, so we had to scoot out of the way, and then suddenly it's time to jump.

Too much BBQ. Not enough mental prep. Too many new strange things. And I jump, the one instructor lets go of me, and I don't arch correctly, and I flip, not once but twice. Luckily I had asked the Gnome what I should do if I mess up the exit. And no matter what is happening with you, if you simply go into a relaxed arch, you will right yourself. And I did. Holy crap.

Then I had to be reminded to do my practice touches, and did them. I needed to pull my head together to perform the tasks assigned in this category: namely to turn 90 degrees to the left and right. It's a simple concept - you just lower one elbow and you will move in that direction. The trouble is, if you move it too fast or forget how to correct yourself, you'll keep going around, and around. Like a spinning record.

The problem also was that because of the tension of the botched exit (and yes, I'm bad and think more of the botched exit rather than the fact that I recovered), and the fact that I wasn't able to stop myself well on the turns, I was not relaxed. And then I started doing what they call potato chipping, which is kind of like making waves with your body. VERY disturbing. The instructor would signal for me to relax and I would for a second and then become Lays again. The trouble was too that very quickly 6000 feet came and I was supposed to pull at 5,000 this time. Well, I was having a hard time seeing my altimeter because I was vibrating so much, and I focused too much on seeing that I was at the right altitude than I was on the fact that I needed to pull, so I pulled a little late.

Then you are supposed to clear your mind and focus on the tasks under canopy. Ok, that's fine. One of the things you do at this level (D) is learn to use your risers to steer and not your handles, in the event of a malfunction of one of the brakes. I did two 90 degree turns and that was it.

The problem was that day that the winds were variable. As we had been walking to the airplane, the dihedral (which rotates according to wind direction and thus shows which way to land) rotated 180 degrees, so though we had a plan set up, it was important for me to know which direction the wind was blowing. And for the life of me when I was under canopy I could NOT see the dihedral. Thankfully there is also a wind sock in a another location, and thus I had some idea. And although I know that I can look and see how others are landing and land in that same pattern, I was afraid to rely on that because the wind was so variable (I had SEEN it change 180 degress in a few seconds!).

The radio man was on but he was letting me do my own thing, and said he would only chime in if I needed help. I wanted to yell back - talk to me now! So, I basically just hovered over the landing area, trying hard to figure out what to do. I guessed, and did fairly ok.

I landed hard in a semi parachute landing fall (PLF) - kind of forward rather than to the side. And felt really queasy. I had to stand still for a moment to make sure I didn't vomit right then and there. But then walked reallllly slowwwllly carrying my stuff to the hanger. Put it down, and sat down for a while to ease my stomach. Wondering as I sat whether my brain and body could really handle skydiving. I'm still not sure, as I slept 10-11 hours last night, and just woke up from a nap.

I'm not sending this one to my mom... :-) She did know I jumped and had lit a candle for me, but only one, so maybe it's because I hadn't told her about the second!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Political lightbulb jokes

I would have just written out the jokes, but I think the comic is done so well...

Friday, September 7, 2007

cars - Learn from my experience

The post on panniers was supposed to be today's post, but I made a mistake and instead of hitting save, hit publish. So, I thought I would share with you my experience of the last week re: my car.

I have a 2006 Toyota Matrix, which I love (that's the product plug). Poor baby's a little abused, but I try to take care of her mechanically. But, since I am also a frugal person, instead of going to the dealership (which had a few free oil change coupons for me in the beginning - but then I ran out), I used a $15.99 coupon at the local Merchant's Tire and Auto.

When I dropped the car off, they offered to rotate the tires for free. How nice, I said. Because they needed it, and again, I'm frugal, I said yes. When I returned to pick up the car, they said there was weird wear on the tires and I needed an alignment, and they had these plans of 1 year, 2 years, 3 years. It was the end of the day, so I didn't get it.

Though I can be naive (hence, the 'how nice') I also thought I should have my dealership check it out, since the guy in the service center, Paul, is great and trustworthy, I think. (and who can't love a guy who calls you a wise ass). My car also needed 20,000 mile tightening of bolts, etc. So, Paul took my car in, chastized me for taking it to another place and said he'd honor any competitor coupon in the future, and said he'd get back to me.

And what do you think was the answer? Alignment is spot on true. Balance is a little off, but within tolerable limits. Bolts tightened, etc. All for free. I love my dealership and I love Paul.

I have half a mind to go back to Merchant's (this is the product unplug) and ask how they can sleep at night. But, it's not the guy's fault - it's the corporation, so I won't waste my time. But I won't be spending any more money there either. And neither will my husband.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Product Plug - Ortlieb bike panniers

I have biked to work for over 13 years. The first 12 years I had panniers that were given to me by an ex - the fabric was durable, but several years ago they started falling off my bike whenever I'd go over a bump. Not a good way to start or end the day. But, me being thrifty (cheap) I never got new ones.

Finally I decided I had had enough, and I was worth it, dammit, so did research and went out and bought Ortlieb bike panniers. They are the BEST. They have a great on/off the rack system that takes just seconds, and they are HUGE (today I had to take my violin to work, and it worked putting it in one - yes, it stuck out some but was secure). Yes, I missed out on getting the new ones which have an internal pocket (Gnome), but such is life. And they are waterproof. Really truly. No more worrying about my stuff in the event of a possible afternoon thunderstorm.

I am so happy every time I use them.

This just in -- Microwave popcorn kills

Many people love the buttery smell of microwave popcorn, but the savory aroma has recently been linked to a lethal lung disease in factory workers who make the popular snack.

Read More

Now we know why the smell travelled so far when anyone popped popcorn. It was reaching its evil tenticles out to kill us.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


The below poem is something I kind of lived by when I was in high school, and beyond I guess. It helped move me from a shy, nerdy, pimply, glasses-wearing, Farrah Fawcett-styled hair wearing, awkward teen to the person I am today... Thus, it's been around a lonnnng time.

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool
To weep is to risk being called sentimental
To reach out to another is to risk involvement

To expose feelings is to risk showing your true self
To place your ideas and your dreams before the crowd is to risk being called naïve

To love is to risk not being loved in return
To live is to risk dying
To hope is to risk despair and,
To try is to risk failure

But risks must be taken
The greatest risk in life is to risk nothing
The person who risks nothing... does nothing, has nothing, and becomes nothing

He may avoid suffering and sorrow
But he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live
Chained by his servitude, he is a slave
He has forfeited his freedom

Only the person who risks is truly free.

Speaking of Death - Pillsbury Funeral

Please join me in remembering a great icon of the entertainment
community. The Pillsbury Doughboy died yesterday of a yeast infection
and trauma complications from repeated pokes in the belly. He was 71.

Doughboy was buried in a lightly greased coffin. Dozens of celebrities
turned out to pay their respects, including Mrs.. Butterworth, Hungry
Jack, the California Raisins, Betty Crocker, the Hostess Twinkies and
Captain Crunch. The grave site was piled high with flours.

Aunt Jemima delivered the eulogy and lovingly described Doughboy as a
man who never knew how much he was kneaded. Doughboy rose quickly in
show business, but his later life was filled with turnovers. He was
not considered a very smart cookie, wasting much of his dough on
half-baked schemes. Despite being a little flaky at times, he still
was a crusty old man and was considered a positive roll model for

Doughboy is survived by his wife, Play Dough, two children: John Dough
and Jane Dough, plus they had one in the oven. He is also survived by
his elderly father, Pop Tart.

The funeral was held at 3:50 for about 20 minutes.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

You vote: Who is more insane?

My husband:

Leaving Saturday to go on a week long trip, half of which is hiking by himself in the wilderness on a trail for which the description notes: do not hike by yourself as this area is frequented by mountain lions.


Jumping out of a perfectly good airplane with a parachute.

On a side note, he's been nice to me ever since I said to him if he wasn't, I'd hide kitty treats and/or catnip in his backpack. He says that he's bringing along a big ball of yarn to throw if they come after him.

And we had a conversation tonight about what we'd want if each one of us died. Semi-serious. Good to know info. He's kind of upset because he wouldn't get insurance money if I went splat on a skydive. Oh to be him.

Hell in North Texas

There have been many a post this week about bugs and pests and such. Found out about this huge spiderweb in N. Texas. Title of the article: Got Arachnophobia? Here’s Your Worst Nightmare. Go read to get the creepy crawlies. [shiver]

Monday, September 3, 2007

Sandbag, or, This is rated a 5.5?!

Back from a climbing trip, and just up from a nap. Nice almost ending to the weekend...

We had yet another lucky wonderful weather weekend for climbing. Not too hot, a slight breeze, lots of sunshine. One would think that such perfect weather would inspire greatness in climbing. Unfortunately that is not always the case. Day 1, neither my husband nor I could do anything all that well. Day 2, my husband and I met up with 2 friends, and three of us had a difficult climbing day. Actually, on the rock we ran into 2 more people we knew, and one of them was having a bad day, so that made 4 out of 6.

Part of the problem is how the climbs are rated where we were climbing (admittedly a small part). People started climbing this formation (at least as recorded, and in a 'technical' way) in the early 40's. In fact, the Army used it to train mountain troops for action during the war. In the 50's and 60's the climbers put up a lot of routes. Keep in mind the gear available was much less sophisticated than we have today. These people were amazing climbers to climb some of the climbs they did with the gear they had.

And in climbing, everything is relative. A person who is short will find a certain climb to be much harder than a tall person, and vice versa on a different climb. A person climbing in the 60's or 70's might put up a route and rate it a 5.5 relative to the climbs that had been done at that time, or relative to their ability (which, if you are a potential 5.12 climber, a 5.5 is a walk in the park).

So, my friend and I went to do a 5.5 to make ourselves feel better for not being able to do a 'simple' 5.7 (with an ankle-breaker first section that our burly friend placed gear for us, and a committing in your face move off a ledge later - which we walked away from). The first pitch I was glad she did, because it had a few chimneys, which are not my favorite. Wedging yourself between two pieces of rock, often without wonderful holds, and using opposing force to get yourself up is really freaky sometimes. Yes, even on a 5.5 climb.

The first pitch is lonnnng - 130 feet, and ends on a nice ledge of rock. Wonderful views into the valley behind us, and we could also see our friends down below on the ledge. I was slated for the second pitch, which was only 50 feet long.

If you had a board on the street that was 1.5-2 feet wide, you would have no problem walking along this 15-20 feet board. But imagine this board 200 feet up in the air and separated from the wall of rock by about a foot of space that seemed bottomless. And no gear to be placed between where you stand and where you are to end up. And you might know why my palms started sweating.

The thought of getting down on my butt and scooting along it flashed through my mind for a second. But my pride ruled and I walked it. I got a few pieces in, and felt much better. Until I realized where I had to go next. There was a bulge at the end of this traverse, and you had to scoot around onto the face of it. And just air underneath you. And only one really good foothold. But a really good handhold.

So there's me, holding onto the wonderful handhold, hopping from one foot to the other on the good foothold, with every hop needing to look down into space to make sure my other foot gets on the hold, trying to find a place to put gear so I would feel comfortable making the next move. My husband sees me and calls up to me, howy're doing? "I'm in a rough spot and can't talk now!" Though I normally don't like people giving me advice or ideas when I'm climbing, my friend the belayer said to me - how about where your hands are? DUH! Can't see the forest for the trees or whatever metaphor is best. I got a piece in and felt much better.

The next good hold was just out of reach (remember back to how some climbs are easier for taller people?) so I had to make a technical move to get it, and then made it to a spot where I was safe.

Holy Crap! I pity the modern day 5.5 climber who gets on that route. It's amazing, but so heady, and a true sandbag. (when a climb is rated lower than what it truly is) I had never done the climb because it's 'only' a 5.5, but so glad we did it.