Jun. 15th, 2010 07:38 pm
slipstreamsurfr: (pixel)
some mornings..
you wake when you are suppose to..
then fall asleep again..
you don't even realize you are asleep

until you suddenly awaken hearing words that only later you realize were a Tyler Durden moment...

Mine this morning...

you can be me
and not me
and you
and not you
you can be we


slipstreamsurfr: (Default)
I was beat last night when I got home. But it was a good tired.

I had volunteered for Lakefest at Grapevine with the sailing club. I arrived for my shift, they put me in the beer tent to serve to the masses, which didn't show up. Then they needed a pair of guys to stand guard at the VIP area to bounce people who didn't have a VIP badge or bracelet. We bounced so well I think we only had 3 or 4 VIP's the three hours me and Len worked the gate.

Len is also in my sailing class. Turns out he use to sail a long time ago in college. Then recently he bought a boat and was taking the class as a refresher because he'd forgotten over time what things were called, the points of sail and what not. He offered that if anyone finally relieved us from our post that we could go out for an hour or two sail on his boat Saturday afternoon.

Eventually the next shift showed up, a little late but I'm not complaining too much. It was HOT in the full sun where they had us stationed. I will say this though, the people running the event made sure that we all got fed pizza when it arrived and ran water for us when we needed it. I was impressed. This was the first year of the event and I think they could have used more advertising, it was picking up a bit as the day went longer. Hopefully next year it will be even bigger.

So we were released and Len asked if I was still interested in sailing for a bit. I said sure! I reapplied my sunblock and grabbed my sailing gloves from the car and we walked down the docks to his boat. He has a 25 foot MacGregor sailboat. Fairly basic, not a club boat, and it's always interesting to see how the different boats are set up. We motored out of the marina after casting off and then he gave me the tiller/motor and had me face her into the wind while he went forward to bend on the Jib. We hoisted it and the mainsail and then had a whole lot of fun at the first. The wind was blowing nearly 20 knots, gusting higher. With the jib up we tacked once or twice and he tried to hold a course but we had pretty severe weather helm. Weather helm is when a boat tends to want to turn towards the wind. On his boat it was being caused because we were heeling over so much (rolling away from the wind) because of the wind load on the sails that the rudder would come partly out of the water so we couldn't hold a course with the wind we had. The way to fix it would be to bring down some of the sails to have less pressure. We decided to drop the jib and sail under the main for now.

I went forward while we were underway and started to bring down the jib. I needed to remove it from the forestay and stow it in the forward hatch. A couple of things, I'm tall, and not really all that steady as of yet on a boat when it's likely to heel. I ended up getting up there, opening the forward hatch and sitting with my feet in it as I pulled down the jib. I had a bit of a fumble at first because I didn't understand how the hanks worked on the jib. I eventually figured it out and start unclipping it and stuffing it away. I unclipped the halyard and clipped the line on the lifeline, unclipped the control line for the jib and clipped it to the other side of the boat on another lifeline. Then I made my way back to the cockpit on a MUCH more stable boat.

We talked a bit about other ways that situation might be handled if the boat was equipped differently or even if we had had a smaller storm jib to put back up. I learned a lot in that exercise. Experience is a great teacher.

Len asked if I wanted to take the helm and I said sure! I managed to both jibe and tack with just the main without much problem today. Calling them out and then either I would work the main or Len would help.

I noticed in the higher winds we had today that at times there would be a moan in the boat. It was more than just the sound, I could even feel it in the tiller at times. After it had been doing it for 20 minutes or so I asked about it. He grinned and said that when you had the sails set right on this boat she'd let you know, especially in this much wind. It was such an animal sort of thing to experience. The boat was alive and talking to us.

He had me steer to the gap between the bank and a little island on the lake. Saying that in the middle of the gap it was about 16 feet deep and his swingboard only takes about 6. That was so very cool to slip between and look over the starboard side at the trees and such on the little island, then once we got enough past it I jibed on the downwind to turn us and we came around the end of the island. We ran in 20 knot winds with just the main all the way to the dam. From there I tacked when I felt I could pick an aiming point upwind of the marina so I could try to make it back on the single tack without having to work up again in the wind. I was lucky, or maybe I'm starting to learn a little because I brought us all the way back to the marina with flying spray from the boat at times under the main sail alone. Wheee! As we approached the first tire wavebreak Len took the tiller back and brought us all the way back to slip on the sail alone. With just a little less wind he'd have tried to sail us into the slip but instead opted to have me drop the main and he put us in with the engine instead. I helped tie up the boat and flake the main and put the cover on. All in all it was a lot of fun. I'm really glad he offered. I'm glad I took him up on his offer.

While we were out we watched some of the other boats. The usual bevy of powerboats and jet skies, but there was also a little sunfish sailboat being sailed singlehanded. They sure looked to be having a lot of fun. I also saw a wave-border for a little bit later, but I think he was finding the winds/lake conditions where we was a bit more of a challenge than he wanted. Still, for a little boat that sunfish was doing a great job out in the high winds. I was very impressed.

Things learned today in the short hour or two I was out, if the wind is too high and you are carrying too much sail reduce the sail, either by getting rid of the jib/putting a smaller one one, or reef the main. We opted to get rid of our jib and had a really easy time then with still very good performance, speed, and comfort. If you are trying to hold into the wind too tight and you are getting a pretty hard lean, you can sometimes ease out the main a bit and the boat will straighten back upright and you'll still be able to get where you want to go. Sometimes... I learned what weather helm was, and that reading about it in a book doesn't do it justice. I learned better about how to plan a course on the lake to get where I want to go under sail. I learned that higher winds doesn't mean don't sail, just sail differently. I also more firmly cemented in my head tacking and jibeing, points of sail, starboard and port tack. It was a LOT learned in the hour or two we got to play. Still, a whole lot of fun.

I guess the last thing I learned today, was sort of like the first time I sailed on the 30 footer of Bob's. When sailing under wind power alone, the boats really are creatures in their own right. Alive, dynamic, active, communicative. It is such a neat thing when you can feel it in the boat, in the helm , in the sheets.

slipstreamsurfr: (Default)
Today we reviewed what we had learned the day before on parts of the boat and such. Then we learned about points of sail and jibeing on the downwind run in the book work section. We also had a contest to see who could tie a bowline the quickest :)

After the 3 hours book work they placed me on one of the club 22 foot catalinas, Brown Eyed Girl. Me and one other guy with our instructor, Terry.

We were doing jibes. I don't know I like that much. Plus, my first time at a tiller. Then we swapped off and on either being helmsman or working the lines.. The 22 footer you helm from a seated position. You change sides when you jibe or tack so your back is always windward. That was hard a bit hard on the knees. But I figured it out and managed to do it without hurting anything. We even put out the whisker-pole on the jib once on a downwind run to open up the sales. jibeing back and forth when we needed to. I let my student partner work the foredeck. He was a bit more sure of his footing than I was today. I'm still working on my sea legs and like to have something close by to hang onto if I need to. When 3 o'clock came and we had the boat back at the dock so my fellow student could leave (he wanted to go try sail his boat now), Terry asked if I had to be somewhere or did I want to sail some more. I said sure, let's go!

Out we went again and he let me practice tacking back and forth. I thought about making a comment about thanks for taking on the slow to learn student on tacking with a tiller, but instead I just said thanks for taking me out to practice some more. He laughed and said it's all practice, besides, it was too nice a day to quit just yet. I have to say, it helped. Back and forth across the lake I would say "Ready to Tack?" he'd say "Ready" I'd say "Helm to lee" and push the tiller away from me while he ran the sheets on the jib for me. He also showed me how to heave to, that is to bring the boat to a stop. I'm not sure I really have that down, but it was neat to give it a shot. I knew it was getting close to time for us to get back and I could see he was itching for the helm so I asked if he'd like to take the helm and I'd work the sheets for him. He grinned and said that was taking care of your skipper, that he'd been doing checkouts and the classes and hadn't had much time to just sail. So I then let him have the tack back and forth and around while I ran the sheets for him. Running both sheets by yourself you very quickly realize why the gloves are a great idea! Soon it was time to head back to the dock though. As he brought us in I deployed the bumpers and he had me furl the jib on the roller furler. I dropped the main when he asked me to while he started the little outboard to slide us in the dock. I hopped off the boat onto the dock and grabbed the boat and muscled her into the slip and tied off her bow. I stayed and helped him flake the mainsail on the boom and put the cover on and clean/close up the boat. On the way out we ran across the guy who runs the sail away program and stopped to help him square away his boat. I learned how to flake and fold a jib off the boat on the pier!

Boy, am I wiped out right now. It was 100 and about a 40% humidity at the lake. Even with all the water I was drinking I'm a bit dry now.

I wore lots of sunscreen today, but did get a little burned.

Sheesh! This will wear you out when you aren't use to it. I'm going to request that I be put on another club boat at least one of the two days I have left. I want to stay in something with a tiller and get better about it.

So, you sit with the wind coming over your back (windward side) while you are either on a beam reach or close hauled and to tack you push the tiller away from you and then switch sides so the wind is again on your back. When you jibe you are running with the wind while your back is to the windward side and you pull the tiller to you and change seat to the other side while you guide the main over with your free hand so it doesn't swing wild on you. Things to remember.

One on one after 3 hours in the heat for an hour and a half will wear you out in a sailboat. Next lesson, weekend after next.

This is a LOT of fun!

Day 1

Jun. 5th, 2010 07:16 pm
slipstreamsurfr: (Default)
I got to the marina early and checked in. They had the US Sailing textbook Start Sailing Right! for us as well as a syllabus. It looks like somewhere north of fifty people are in the class. The age range ran the gauntlet from maybe 19 to 20/21 or so to a couple in their 60's. The first 3 hours of our day was spent learning the parts of the boat, the parts of the sails. They gave us a short section of rope and taught us the first two knots we will need to know. The Bowline and the figure 8 Stopper knot. The bowline was a little confusing at first but I got it together. Then the other 3 on my table were having problems with it so I tried to show them how it worked for me. I think they mostly got it figured out. Then we talked a bit about what was to come. They called out all our names in groups of 2, 3, 4 and called out a skippers name as well. These are the the people in our crew for today. Every day we will be in a new crew with a new skipper on a new boat. That way we get to meet more of the people, we get to try different sorts of boats.

My skipper's name today was Bob. He sails a 30 foot Catalina built in 1984. It's a very nice boat. We spent the next 3 hours being introduced to the various stations around the boat, each getting a chance to try our hand at sailing at the helm, working the sheets on the jib and the mainsail. Talk about an upper body workout. Even with being able to grind the winches to help bring in the sails it's work.

It's so cool though...
to feel the wind in the sails...
the power in the lines/sheets, in the helm...
it's like being in control/riding a living breathing creature of immense power...

It is cool...
slipstreamsurfr: (Default)
I'm going to at long last be able to learn to do something else I've always wanted to. This weekend I get to start a 4 day beginning sailing class on a local lake!

Sailing a boat is one of those childhood dream things I've always wanted to do but never have had the chance before. I think I probably wanted to sail boats before I even wanted to fly airplanes, and those that know me in real life know how much I have wanted to fly airplanes.

I grew up/spent a lot of my youth around the Texas gulf coast. Like most boys watching Errol Flynn movies and tv re-runs in the 60's and 70's, tall ships, sloops, cutters, boats of all kinds and the sea were very much in the foreground of my consciousness. My pre-teen and early teen years I spent the summer, winter, spring and fall on the waters of the local lakes in my dads old fishing skiff with him. Sometimes it was more about just being outside and futzing about on the water in the skiff with that ancient johnson outboard-motor puttering along as it was for the fishing.

So this weekend starts the first half of the class, we'll spend the mornings doing classroom work, the afternoons sailing. Each day we sail on a different boat so we get to see what different ones are like. We sail this weekend, take a weekend off, then the next one.

I've got my sunscreen ready, I'm ready to go!


May. 17th, 2010 01:05 pm
slipstreamsurfr: (4gr)
Another step is taken.

Met the local 'good' AME in the area that likes to handle interesting cases. I passed everything for the class III with the exception of the right eye. He said all my paperwork and tests were in good order. I had just about every piece of paper the FAA will likely want to see. Now he submits it to OK City and we wait for the papermill to turn and spit out a temp medical and an introduction letter to the local FSDO for a medical flight test to prove I can land a plane with only one eye. This I already know I can do, Mischa and I have been flying in the cheetah and I've ironed out most of my problems there already.

So another step is taken and now I'm back to waiting. I've already waited 6 months since the initial event. I can wait a little while longer.
slipstreamsurfr: (4gr)
The packet from retina doc arrived in the mail. Scanned and sent to my senior ame friend to check it. He says, go get your medical and start the ball rolling with the FAA to get your medical back unrestricted after the monovision medical flight ride.


Apr. 29th, 2010 03:02 pm
slipstreamsurfr: (Default)
I was reminded last night by [livejournal.com profile] angevin2 that Hamlet was on Great Performances on PBS. This is the version done by the RSC last year with David Tennant as Hamlet and Patrick Stewart as both Claudius and the Ghost. I wish I had saved the chat log I had going with my mother-in-law as we poked at the production from our respective households. It was approaching epic before we were done.

I'm not always a big fan when someone time shifts a Shakespeare play. Often times I feel that things end up feeling very contrived. That wasn't the case this time. I liked what they have done with the play. Hamlet is one of those plays that often it is hard to stay awake through the final scene. It tends to put people to sleep. This version won't. At least not most people. This is a very approchable version of Hamlet.

I have liked Tennant as Doctor Who and have always heard that he was a good actor otherwise as well. My mother-in-law said, not Burton good, but very good as Hamlet. I kind of disagree as I think that Tennant is very strong as an actor and will bring a lot of people to the play. He is so very good in the role. When you pair him with Patrick Stewart as Claudius you have lit the fuse on the powderkeg. Stewart as Claudius is inspired. He plays such a cold and calculating Claudius that he can drop the temperature in a room 20 degrees just by looking at someone. His guesture when given the cup the the last act is inspired, and priceless.

It's a very enjoyable version of the play. I see why so many folks were squeeing with delight when they found out that Tennant had been cast. I'm sure [livejournal.com profile] angevin2 will give us a much more complete and scholarly writeup of the play soon as I know she wateched it also. If you didn't catch it on PBS and feel the need to grab a copy on DVD I know that Amazon has it for sale as of May 4th here.
slipstreamsurfr: (Default)
Today I rode with a friend on a round robin flight across some very pretty spring time countryside. The marked difference from near DFW to just an hours flight away was amazing. Even out in the country though you still saw them, gas wells, pump-jacks, oil storage tanks, big obnoxious houses on zero lot lines, pavement everywhere when you got closer to the towns..

I watched those green fields today slip under and behind our wings and I thought about the past..
about barnstomers, and biplanes..
about cubs with big fat low pressure tires..
I wondered what it must have been like to be able to hop the hedge and drop into a farmers pasture and not get shot at..
to have it all new, for aviation to be fresh to people...
to take people aloft in an age where being sued at the drop of a hat was unheard of...

I wondered what it was like to not have gaswells everywhere you look, those big obnoxious houses on zerio lot lines and pavement everywhere..

I'm sure a lot of my thoughts were influenced by some of the exhibits at Tyler Pounds. They had pictures of Love Field from the 1920's, when it was just a big grass field and nothing but biplanes on it. Golden age aviation at its finest. Over on the civil aviation portion of the museum there were big advertising posters for the cessna 140's. A wooden rib from a J3 cub, pictures and models of planes from other times. Flying in another world than the one we live in now...

But you know, on the way back home, flying over the spring time Texas pastures at 2000 feet, there were times when you could almost hear the sound of the wind in the wires. You could almost see the farms the way they must have seen them 60, 70, 80 years ago. If you squinted just right you could look past the pavement, the freeways.. If you looked sideways just right, you could glimpse a flight into the past.

Our route today.. http://tinyurl.com/ybhoonj
slipstreamsurfr: (Default)
I started work on an undergrad degree, any undergrad degree, off and on, some 26 years ago. There were years I didn't go to school. Work, life, all sorts of things getting in the way. Along the way I changed my mind, my major, many times. There have been many ideas, many dreams, many plans over the years. In the end I opted to take the smart way out, to complete, in what I could complete in with what I had. Realizing that all I had to do was fulfill some lower end credits with CLEP exams and a couple of higher level classes I set to work. It took about a year to take the 27 credits, 6 classes of CLEP exams(18 of those 27 credits), this with taking a handful of upper level English classes to round out what I needed to complete.

Then it was done. All the t's crossed, all the i's dotted. The petition for graduation was submitted and I waited. Had I really gotten everything together for them, was it all there, did it all count. I got the letter telling me I had met the requirements and was scheduled to have my degree conferred on the 5th of March.

As I sit here this morning and look at my undergrad degree hanging on the wall of my office I think about all the things that have transpired in my life since I started this journey. It's been very nearly a surreal trip. I wonder what the future will hold. I've got a grad school application in progress. I've investigated what it will take to be able to fly again. Who knows what the future will bring. There were many times I never thought I'd be able to sit here and see my diploma on the wall.

Of course there are side effects.

Everyone asks me now... how do you say your middle name? ;)
slipstreamsurfr: (4gr)
It's all over the aviation websites so I'm sure everyone knows. However you never know..

A heads up for anyone who doesn't know, the FAA is expiring the paper Airman Certificates as of March 31st.

If you've still got one, go here and fill out the form and request your new one. FAR 61.19(h) reads: “Except for a temporary certificate issued under §61.17 or a student pilot certificate issued under paragraph (b) of this section, the holder of a paper pilot certificate issued under this part may not exercise the privileges of that certificate after March 31, 2010.”

I'd sure hate to be holding an old paper one and get ramped somewhere. Note, if your certificate still has your social security number on it you can request a new plastic certificate and not have to pay the $2.00 charge for the replacement.
slipstreamsurfr: (4gr)
Texas had a long and varied history during WWII. On March 10th a very important group will finally get some recognition for their service during the war. The WASP will be presented the congressional gold medal at the US Capital.

Formed in late 1942 they originally trained out of what was then called Howard Hughes Field(since renamed Houston Hobby) in Houston. In early 1943 the operation was moved to Avenger Field in Sweetwater Texas. 18 classes trained more than 1100 women pilots. While they were trained to fly anything in the military fleet, they were employed under the Civil Service program, not the military. As such they paid their own way when they joined and eventually left Sweetwater when the program was disbanded in 1944. When one of their own died in a training or flight mishap, there were no military benefits. The lady pilots took up a collection among themselves to take care of their own. They weren't given military benefits until congress granted them in 1977.

After 65 years these women will get the recognition they deserve.

We should all take a moment on the 10th to remember their under-appreciated service to our country.

Avenger Field in Sweetwater Texas KSWW has what I hear is a really nice museum dedicated to the WASP. Their website is here.
slipstreamsurfr: (Default)
Jeff Vavasour wrote a Java based emulator for one of the first computers I ever owned. His is for the Timex/Sinclair 1000. Basically a ZX81 with an additional 1K of memory onboard for a whopping 2K of RAM! ;)

I had a brand spanking new Sinclair ZX81 fresh off the boat from the UK with the wobbly 16k memory pack and sinclair printer in the VERY early 80's. Up until the point I finally had one in my hands I had been trying to teach myself BASIC from books from Creative Computing and Radio Shack. I wanted a TRS80 Model 1, but would have to wait another year or so before I could finally afford a used one.

This was the very first real computer I owned...
and now, it's a JAVA based emulator..


check it out, he has some programs you can "load" into the emulator and play. :)
slipstreamsurfr: (Default)
I've never scratch baked much of anything before. I thought I'd try making a simple bread to go with the baked beans we'll be having for dinner tonight. You can't get much simpler than making a soda bread so I opted for an irish wheat soda bread.

the recipe and pictures to follow! )
slipstreamsurfr: (Default)
I've been thinking a bit about this lately. They say that for most people their first Doctor from Doctor Who is their favorite one. Does that really hold true?

My first Doctor would have been Tom Baker, it's what PBS imported in the 70's to us. I've seen bits of all the doctors now, including a lot of the last couple of doctors. While I like nine and ten, I still think that Tom Baker is my favorite. I do have to say that Tennant's tenth doctor gave him a run for the money as they wound up his stay at the post. I still really like the persona of Baker's doctor a bit better.

Ah well, that's my first and favorite, who's yours?
slipstreamsurfr: (Default)
I also got my grade score from ETS for the GRE. I scored well enough on the verbal to place at my local school in the grad program, however I fell just a little short on what it states they want on the essay portion. I don't understand how that could be. I felt they were really strong essays.

Well, the report is headed to my college now. I'll queue up the final transcript after March 5th from TESC and we'll see if the graduate committee decides I am a strong enough candidate for admittance. I feel I interviewed well with the grad advisor of the program. I've got the undergrad advisor on my side personally as well as with a letter of recommendation, as well as a letter of recommendation from one of the professors in the graduate program there. My final letter was from another senior lecturer I had in the department. I should be able to meet the 3 out of 4 criteria for successful admission. I think. But then again I thought I had done better on those essays on the GRE too.

We'll see.

Time will tell.


Feb. 12th, 2010 02:46 pm
slipstreamsurfr: (Default)
I got a couple of letters in the mail today.

One was from Thomas Edison State College. It contained two rather formal pieces of paper as well as a pair of photocopied pages.

The formal pages say...

To Whom It May Concern

This is to certify that name redacted has completed all of the degree requirements for the Bachelor of Arts degree with an area of study in Liberal Studies. This degree was certified on February 5, 2010 and is scheduled to be conferred upon name redacted by the Board of Trustees of Thomas A. Edison State College on March 5, 2010.

it's really done..
I really do have an undergrad degree after all these years...


Jan. 27th, 2010 12:37 pm
slipstreamsurfr: (Default)
The GRE is done.

I was right, it was an obnoxious test. At least it's done. I've scored well enough to place at my school pending scores on my essays.

slipstreamsurfr: (Default)
Have you ever needed to print to a PDF file from your Windows box?

Hate the idea of spending money on a utility to allow you to do it?

I just found these guys...


It works in my office 2000 install at the office.

Totally free. No nagware, no restrictions that I can tell. I give it two thumbs up!!


slipstreamsurfr: (Default)

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