Thursday, December 31, 2009

Skydiving

For our birthdays, Cara and I got our first jumps from Jennifer. Here are some pictures from that adventure.

On a sunny Sunday, November 30th we got to Skydive the Ranch in Gardiner, NY (a bit south of New Paltz). After about 30-45 minutes of training, we were suited up and ready to go. That's Cara behind me, also in yellow.
We sit on long benches in the plane with our instructors behind us. That's Cara to my right.
Cara jumped first. In a tandem jump you are strapped to the chest of your instructor. The person just below Cara and her instructor is a cameraman.
Then I went.

Part of our present was the accompanying pictures and videos, taken (for me) by a woman with a video camera and a digital still camera on her helmet. The instructors were all very friendly and made sure we faced the camera for the minute of freefall that we had.
You can't hear a damn thing so everything is coordinated with hand signals. You are told when to put your arms out, when to reach back and find the ripcord so you know where it is when it comes time to pull it, then put your arms back out again, then you signal off to the photographer that you are going to pull the cord. I was too busy waving to the camera and John, the instructor, could not get me to finally pull the ripcord, so he did. I just felt a sudden deceleration and then we started floating. You can see this in the video below that he gives up trying to move my arms.
The diver with the camera landed first and got us as we landed. I landed on my butt and not 30 seconds later, Cara came in on her feet. Her instructor was nicknamed "Batman".


Of course I'd do it again, and I will this spring. Chris wants to go, and so does Ken. Cara is rounding up some friends, too. Wanna join us?

Here are the videos.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Special Anniversary

It's a special anniversary for Vaclav Havel, the eponym for my 'vaclav's hovel':

(the following is shamelessly stolen, in it's entirety, from the Writer's Almanac)

It was on this day in 1989 that playwright Václav Havel (books by this author) was elected president of Czechoslovakia, ending more than 40 years of Communist rule. Havel is the author of nearly 20 plays. His plays challenged the oppressive Communist regime, and for that he was blacklisted in 1969 and his plays were banned. He left Prague, moved to the country, got a job at a brewery, and continued writing plays and also political essays. He was in and out of jail, serving for about five years, and he wrote three major plays during the last years of Communist rule: Largo Desolato (1984), Temptation (1985), and Slum Clearance (1987).

In November of 1989, he helped establish the Civic Forum, which spearheaded the nonviolent resistance movement, and on this day in 1989, he was elected president. He served until 1992, when he resigned in the face of political tensions that split Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, a division that he opposed. In 1993, he was elected president of the Czech Republic, and he served for 10 years.

He said: "I understand, especially when one is looking at me from a distance, that I might seem as some kind of fairy-tale hero who banged his head against the wall until the wall fell, and then reigned. It makes me blush slightly, because I know my mistakes. On the other hand, I do not ridicule it because people need these kinds of stories."

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Xmas Traditions


Jennifer is cranking out cookies. I hope these leave the house soon, lest I eat them.
Cara is feverishly working on her famous Christmas Cards...

Next....

Before Xmas hits, I want to see if I can finish the floor completely (I have to face nail in some pieces close to the wall and in some corners), put in the baseboard, maybe . . . just MAYBE . . . install the closet door. then that leaves his door, miscellaneous other trim, and then we'll move to his "porch" in the good weather.

If I don't weigh 500lbs after Xmas, maybe we'll start in on the hall. I bought all that flooring for Finn's room but I will have at least two boxes - almost three - left to start it.

Finn's Floor

Uf you look back through the blog this might look familiar. At any rate, this is where the heat was rerouted betwixt his room and Cara's. I finally installed a proper outlet and covered it up for good. His bed has been resting over the bulk of this, and the rest of the floor was covered with those colored, interlocking squares so he had a decent surface to play on.




Voila le flooring product.

First course ready to go.


I love floor nailers. Just remember, they nail into the tongue side.

With half the room and the closet done, I have to move the things from one side of the room to the finished floor. I don't have a lot of spare space here.

The door strikes the floor. I had to take it off, then downstairs to the basement where I sawed off 1/2 an inch.

That's the door to Finn's "porch" or the entry way from outside stairs. It's full of the rest of his things at the moment.

I had to get him a floor by Christmas if it killed me.