Sunday, August 31, 2008

Pure Unadulterated Cuteness

My niece.

I don't mean to gush but she's just so adorable!

Friday, August 29, 2008

An excellent progression

We're going from this:

To this

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Kudos to switchabit

I noticed my switches weren't working earlier this afternoon. After fiddling with them for a bit I shot some feedback over to the Switchabit crew.

About 30 minutes later things started working and I got a followup:
Thanks for the heads up. There was a hardware problem that escaped our monitors. Everything is back online. Let me know if you have any further problems.


So, kudos to switchabit for jumping on the issue quickly and also for responding in such an upfront manner. We need more customer service like this.

Auctioning landing slots

Megan McArdle has some interesting commentary up on auctioning landing slots to raise money for the FAA.

Hey, eBay just announced their new fee structure. Now is the time!

Cool video of some RW at CSS

I stumbled across this while looking for some of Todd's videos shot for CSS on YouTube.

Tandem Jump 4

I think I'm going to stop jumping on Sundays. The week before last it was weather. This week it was the plane.

After sleeping through my alarm Sunday morning I showed up at the drop zone a few minutes late. I should have known something was up when Todd (one of the videographers) was just hanging out in the lobby going through old videos. It turns out that one of the engines on the CASA was overheating so it was grounded for the day. Better safe than sorry.

Of course, this spawned all sorts of commentary that morning:

"There's no such thing as a perfectly good airplane"
"Hey, we only need to get up to altitude"
"Does this mean I can go take a nap?" (one of the instructors)

So we spent the morning hanging out on the deck and trading stories. For a novice like me times like that are valuable inasmuch as it gives me a chance to pick up little nuggets of information as well as get to know the folks that will be coaching me once I moved onto my IAF jumps (more on that later).

I did my briefing with JT that morning. Tandem 4 focuses on dives and is also the first jump where you make a poised rather than a diving exit. We ran through everything and I settled in to wait for the plane to show up while JT took a nap. Saturday appeared to have worn him out.

Despite several false starts (a lawnmower driving behind a metal hangar sounds surprisingly like a twin turboprop) the Otter finally arrived from Raeford. Up we went!

A few folks did pop and drops at 7K and then we lumbered on up to 14,000'. I have to say that I was not what I considered mentally prepared for this jump. While I was loose enough I do think the newness of the side exit from the Otter was weighing heavily on my subconscious. Beyond that I had not mentally rehearsed the jump to the degree that I needed to. I was getting the plan jumbled in my head. This added to the overall feeling of unease and ended up feeding on itself and resulted in several mistakes. While none were truly dangerous the OCD perfectionist in me was not at all satisfied. Let's run through them:

1) I didn't get in position in the door properly.
2) I grabbed the bar above the exit.
3) Once I began the skydive and moved into my dives I didn't keep track of time or altitude accurately.
4) My PHT (singular) was crap.
5) I didn't wave off at pull.
6) I pulled at 5500' and not 6500'.
7) Altitude awareness under canopy was lacking.
8) I snapped my head back on the landing and smacked JT in the jaw. Sorry, man.

These are all things I will definitely be pondering while I wait for ground school in September. I don't want to be The Best out there but I do want to perform to what I consider my best and this jump definitely wasn't it.

That being said, the dives and deltas were awesome. Rocketing across the sky like that is an amazing feeling and its why I keep doing this.

The next available Ground School slot is 7 September. I'll be doing my last tandem that day and also doing my first jump under my own canopy after a day of additional instruction.

I can't wait.

Friday, August 15, 2008

If you need to buy a false leg for a horse ...

... then please do not raise the funds through petty larceny. Seriously, I couldn't make this stuff up if I had to.

Joyce Bernann McKinney was charged in Carter County with criminal conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and failure to appear in court, said lawyer David Crockett, who represented her in the Tennessee case. She is accused of instructing a 15-year-old boy to break into a house, and Crockett said she needed the money to buy a false leg for a beloved horse.

Of course, this isn't the first time McKinney has been in the news. In 1977 she kidnapped a Mormon missionary and made him her "sex slave". From there, she jumped bail before the case went to trial only to resurface recently after paying Korean scientists $53,000 to clone her dog.

This woman is a nexus of crazy.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lawyers continue to ruin everyone's fun

Seriously people, is this what we're coming to?
"Leaving toys in the middle of that fall zone creates potential for a child to strike a hard surface rather than the safety surface underneath," Payne said.

An accident could be grounds for a lawsuit according to Payne. He said the city will remove any toys left at park after August 15

Hat tip: 30Threads

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

But what of the pickles?

Newsflash: Iraqis don't care what idiots think.

Al-Qa'eda has lost credibility for enforcing a series of rules imposing their way of thought on the most mundane aspects of everyday life.

They include a ban on women buying suggestively-shaped vegetables

They also evidently wanted to ban ice cream. Ice cream!? It's one of the happiest of foods. Do away with that and you're gonna lose those hearts and minds.

Hat Tip: Instapundit

Monday, August 11, 2008


This is kinda cute ...

Tandem Jump 3

I was back up at Carolina Sky Sports this weekend for my third tandem jump. The original plan for the day was to do two tandem jumps at 12:00 and 2:00 PM. Unfortunately, mother nature intervened.

Sunday morning I was rudely awoken by the sound of thunder outside my bedroom window. A glance outside confirmed my fears. We were completely socked in. There was a glimmer of hope, however. The weather radar showed somewhat clear skies to the west as the storms made their way through the area. By 11:30 I was walking through the front door at CSS. Sadly, I was only able to make one jump at 4:00.

The previous two weeks I'd spent my free time reading through the SIM and reviewing the lessons learned on my first two jumps. This is where I appreciate an instructor like John Renfro. He drilled into me the key concepts I needed to be learning at this stage of my training.

The Three Ps
1) Pull
2) Pull at the correct altitude
3) Pull at the correct altitude and while stable

In addition to that I needed to learn to trust my arch as I exited the aircraft. The initial tandem jumps are intentionally unstable so as to reinforce that concept with novice skydivers. Just to make things a little extra hairy, the rear exit from the CASA 212 means you go from no wind to a whole lotta wind very quickly. That's not to say it isn't fun. It's a fucking blast going through that initial tumble while the world spins around you.

On the climb up my instructor Eric and I chatted briefly and traded a few jokes. This helped with another piece of advice John gave me: relax. If you're relaxed you're thinking clearly and can react properly in the event there is a problem. If everything goes according to plan then it means you're that much more clear headed and able to enjoy the jump. After all, that's why I'm jumping out of plane with a bunch of other lunatics. Because it's as much fun as you can possibly have with your pants on!

The final piece of advice that came from John was "Plan the jump and jump the plan." Running through the list of things I would be expected to do during my jump helped me to relax immensely as we climbed to 14,000 ft. It calmed that knot in my stomach as the aircraft lurched every so slightly as the first jumpers out disappeared from view.

This jump's plan was pretty straight forward:

1) Get to the edge of the ramp and Check in with the instructor.
2) After the thumbs up it will be Ready! Set! Go! and we're out of the aircraft.
3) Arch hard and get stable.
4) After the tap begin the skydive. Pick a heading and check your altimeter. We're around 12,000 ft so we have plenty of time.
5) Perform a right 360° turn.
6) Check your altimeter.
7) Perform a left 360° turn.
8) Check your altimeter.
9) Perform a Practice Handle Throw (PHT).
10) Check your altimeter (are you seeing a pattern here?).
11) Perform a Practice Handle Throw (PHT).
12) Check your altimeter.
13) Perform a Practice Handle Throw (PHT).
14) Check your altimeter.
15) At 6500 ft keep your eye on your altimete.
16) At 6000 ft wave off and pull!

Once the canopy is out check for There, Square, Stable, and Steerable. If it is then head on over to the holding area and get in line to land.

The downwind leg of the landing was spot on. We didn't bleed enough altitude on the base leg so we came in a little high and a little fast for the final leg and then hit a few cross gusts. It was interesting, but at that point you're close enough to the ground that you feel secure. Still, dropping onto the deck at this point would still earn you a broken leg.

We ended up flaring and just floating onto the deck at the LZ. However, due to the slight height differential between my instructor and I we both ended up on our asses.

Eric gave me a brief rundown on the post-jump procedures including gathering up the lines and taking everything back to the packing area and laying it out for the packing team.

All in all, it was a great jump!

Monday, August 4, 2008


The latest vice to enter my repertoire is skydiving. Back in May my buddy convinced me to go with him while he made his second tandem jump. With the house finally sold I'm finally able to get into the swing of things and start jumping on a regular basis.

My second tandem jump came the last week in July and I think I did OK.

This weekend I'll be heading back up to Carolina Sky Sports for jumps 3 and 4. Unfortunately, the earliest ground school slot available was 6 September so I'll have to take a brief hiatus after this weekend.

Until then I'll be studying the SIM and looking forward to landing under my own canopy.