Monday, March 26, 2007

It's time to kick the ol' time management skills into high gear. I fear that this will be a long month, as I have seemingly hundreds of things pulling at my attention, and only a few weeks to get them done. To make matters worse, the weather is getting really nice and I just want to go outside and ride my bike. Dammit, it's going to be hard to get my stuff done when my brains are out the window. I have a paper to write in what has been an excruciatingly boring economics class. It's taught by a doctoral student from Columbia (university, not country or district of) who has 2 separate masters degrees from the Sorbonne, a brain the size of a small planet and an extremely limited ability to communicate with mere mortals. Goddam ivy league bullshit. I just hope that Penn hooks me up with some sweet jobs once I graduate, because the education I'm getting is starting to piss me off. I'm soooo glad that I went to someplace like Macalester, where the professors are A: all PhDs and B: are almost without exception, decent teachers. Colleges are places where the profs are educators, not just educated.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

At long last, the best post ever, because it's true.

I was climbing at the Penn rock wall and ended up talking to the guy on duty, Travis. Travis relayed this story:

I was shopping in Home Depot when I met up with a former co-worker of mine, Alex. Alex is about 28 and runs a crew of 15 guys, they build houses and do roofs. Alex was built like a brick shit house, not too tall, but just muscular as hell, and he was a real take charge kind of guy, super intense. I asked him how he was doing and he said, 'Not too bad, I've more or less recovered from my accident. Almost 100%'
I had noticed that he looked a little skinnier than before, and his chin was differently shaped, but I didn't think anything of it at the time. Now I was curious though. "What happened to you?"
"You know I'm into skydiving right?" Alex said. "Yeah, it was a skydiving accident."
I was like, "NO WAY" and just couldn't believe it, how often do you hear of a skydiving accident in which someone survives?

The Story

Six months ago, Alex decided that he was finally going to take a skydiving lesson, but his wife was totally opposed, she said that there was no way that she would let him skydive with their two kids and another one on the way depending on his salary. Alex signed up for a lesson anyway, but kept it secret from his wife, and while pretending to do something else, snuck out and did one of the buddy jumps.
One jump and he knew that he was hooked. He went back home and watched the footage from the helmet cam over and over again. He signed up for a set of lessons the next day. As his wife didn't want him skydiving, he decided to do it without her knowledge; he snuck out at every chance he could get, an hour and a half was all the time necessary to get to the flight school do a jump and then get back home.

After about 4 months of this, Alex was still going strong, he had completed his 6 mandatory buddy jumps and was doing solo jumps from various altitudes. It so happened that on the day in question, the cloud cover had been too low for the plane to go up for most of the day, but by the time Alex arrived at about 3 in the afternoon, there was a small window of opportunity, time enough for just one jump. He hurried to get his chute and get to the plane before they took off, grabbing the nearest one and heading for the plane. Soon they were off and as he attempted to get the harness buckles around his chest, he noticed that the parachute that he'd grabbed was actually a small, wheras he normally wore a large. The buckles reached around his chest and legs and though they were pretty tight, he thought to himself, "What's the worst that could happen?"

After a 15 minute ascent, they reached jumping altitude and was out the door. The free fall portion went as expected but once the chute opened up at about 2500 feet Alex immediately noticed a problem. The tightness of the straps was quickly cutting off the blood circulation to his extremities, which in turn caused the blood flow to his head to decrease rapidly. by 1500 feet he was out cold and due to the small size of his parachute harness, his body was tilted forward into a nose dive position. Normally parachutists fall to earth at a speed of about 25 mph, but Alex, due to his head-down position and his inability to control for wind and such was estimated to have been heading tangentially in to land at about 50 miles per hour. The landing target had been an open field near a subdivision in South Jersey, and he was somewhat off target, blasting downward towards a neighborhing house with a 6 foot privacy fence and above ground pool.

The residents of the house were having drinks in their back patio as they noticed a parachutist hurtling downward towards their backyard at the speed of a highway vehicle. Alex came in about 5 feet off the ground and smashed head-first through the wooden privacy fence, and because of the position of his arms, he snapped his left forearm in two on one of the six by six support posts. His chin was smashed by either this impact or his next one with the side of the aboveground pool of the type with vinyl sides. As he hit the pool, he sent out a huge shower of water that sprayed water on the incredulous homeowners and he then skipped off the surface of the pool and over the top of their two story house where he came to rest on the edge of the driveway in front.

When the homeowners ran out front to see what the hell had just happened they found the parachutist in a state of shock, he had woken up, but had no idea what had happened to him and though his arm and chin were both shattered he attempted to get up and attack his rescuers screaming, "Who the hell just hit me? Why did you assholes just hit me? I'll Kill you!!" out of his broken face.

About an hour later his pregnant wife received a phone call from Ground Zero Dive School, "Ma'am, Alex had a bad landing, you might want to come down to the hospital." As he had kept his skydiving secret from her, she didn't know what to think and drove to the hospital. The first thing she saw as she was walking towards the ER was her husband with his jaw smashed open and his limp arm bandaged up, tubes running in and out of his body. She promptly freaked out and went into labor.

So three months after the impact, when this story was told, Alex was almost back to his former self. He was still waiting on a couple of surgeries to reshape his chin which had an odd point to it, and to repair one small piece of tendon in his arm. He assured Travis that he'd learned his lesson, "Never put on a parachute that is too small."
His wife had absolutely forbidden him from going anywhere near an airfield, but he had already signed up for the next session of dives in the spring.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Ok, despite my "best" efforts to be productive and get stuff done ahead of schedule, school has entered brain crusher mode again and I'm feeling the pinch. I've got ten pages to write by wednesday and I just don't have the will to go on. It's like senior-itis but I still have a year to go. Here's the deal, I love learning this stuff but I just can't be bothered to actually write stuff or turn things in. I've not missed a deadline yet, nor have I asked for an extension yet in my academic career, but this semester could see the first of those if I'm not careful. The funny thing is that I know a couple of people who have turned in numerous papers and projects late. I just don't get how you do that consistently. For me, I tend to focus on getting stuff onto the paper, even if it's crap, and then take my lumps as they come. I guess that as long as they think that your work is good, professors have no real interest in flunking someone, but I don't want to press my luck.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Well, I may be feeling a bit out of shape, but the good news is that it seems like the other cyclists in the area are feeling worse. I did my first two bike races of the season this past weekend, Saturday was the circuit race, a short-ish one of about 25 miles under perfectly fabulous sunny skies in which I came second, and this morning in the team time trial my squad from the Quaker City Wheelmen finished second to a group of uber-equipped guys who rolled up to the course in their own custom painted Cadence Cycles van, complete with larger than life picture of one of them on the side. Yuck.
Cadence is the shop in town that everybody loves to hate. They are owned and financed by one of the grand high muckety-mucks at Comcast and have currently 1.3 times as much money as God. That said, no one from their store has been an ass to me personally, but their lawyers threatened to sue one of my club members for plagiarism a couple of months ago when he sent out a mock version of their email newsletter. I guess nobody had figured on a shop having its own team of lawyers.
Anyway, the races both went well and went a long way to bringing back my self confidence in the races. I'm looking forward to the season a bit more, wheras I had been a little bit worried after upgrading to a Category 3 at the end of last year. As per usual, I was kind of freaking out at the starting line, looking around at all the guys with newer and faster bikes, with shaved legs and calf tatoos and all that jazz. Fortunately, the bicycles don't ride themselves, and I actually kept my head in the game during the race, not pulling the field around in the wind like I usually do. Hopefully the rest of the season will continue in similar fashion.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Revelation of revelation: babies are cute. Our friends Dan and Meghan just had a wicked cute little baby, Owen Henry. Jennifer and I went over to visit and drop off the obligatory post-partum lasagne last night. I always marvel at the fact that all of the parts of adult humans are present in such tiny proportions. Who would have thought that fingernails come in sizes that small. I think that both Jennifer and I did a kind of double take on our "no babies" policy. That lasted all of about an hour or so until we watched An Inconvenient Truth when we remembered that the earth is screwed, and so I think we're still going to hold off on the kids front.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

I gotta get myself to post more frequently. My family is depending on it!! Well, not really. My brother is off reporting for a some sort of realestate rag in Costa Rica. His mind is definitely not in the realestate, it's more in the Cosa Rica and probably the Costariquenas ( I think that's the spelling for girl Costarican). My parents, on the other hand are trapped in the inhospitable midwest- home to maddening heat, blistering cold and the wickedest ice-storms that you can imagine. The storm that left countless people stranded from Denver to Chicago barely spat at Philly. I'm waiting for something really fierce to knock our socks off, but it seems like things are unlikely to turn that way this year as it's already March.

I'm psyched not to have school next week. Spring break is always sweet, and even though I'll (hopefully) be doing homework all break, I'm looking forward to no class. My super plans for the break include, but are not limited to: Riding my bicycle, finishing the countertops in the kitchen, digging an anti-irrigation ditch in the basement, researching and writing some papers and finishing my super blog post that I started the other week, and due to the length and awesomeness of the story, have not yet completed.