Back in the Game

Today I played my new best game of disc golf. On the front 9 I had +1, and on the back 9 I had +2, giving me a total of 3 over par. My goal for the end of the summer is to hit par for the course. I had a lot of opportunities for birdies that I botched, so I think it’s definitely possible for me to do it. I was still fantastically happy with my score today.

Right after the game, I went to Ultimate Frisbee practice. There was a tournament this weekend, so most of the normal crew wasn’t there. There were only 9 of us, so we set up a court for a different kind of game that is essentially the frisbee equivalent of half-court basketball. There is a square about 10 feet wide inside a square that is inside a bigger square that’s about 75 feet wide. The goal is to get the disc to your teammate in the center square. If there is a turnover, you have to take the disc outside the outer square before you can bring it back in. Of course, there is no travelling; you must only throw the disc, and you can’t stand in the inner square for more than 3 seconds. Today was really windy, so it made the game particularly challenging, but it was fun.

Jump Number 2

This morning I went skydiving again. I can’t believe I’m already saying this, but it was a pretty normal jump. I showed up at 10. One plane of students had already jumped, a second plane was getting ready, and there were only two on the third plane, so it worked out great. I wore the same neon green jumpsuit and had the same rainbow parachute, but it’s not about the looks. The weather was gorgeous; even clearer than the first time I went.

I had no problem jumping out of the plane this time. I knew what was going to happen, so a bit of the excitement wasn’t there, but it was still awesome. My exit wasn’t perfect. My arch was fine, but I pushed out of the plane a little aggressively, and rolled a little off axis. The jumpmaster later told me that he had never seen what happened next, but somehow some lines got under my foot. The effect was that I got to watch my chute deploy and then the lines snapped tight and I got rearranged exactly as I should have been. The whole thing happened so fast that I was hardly aware of it.

Once everything was in order, I looked up and watched my canopy finish opening. Then the guy on the radio came on and helped me down. I looked out over the town and enjoyed the ride. As I got closer to the field, I knew I was going to land on the grass, and I could see the guy on the radio hold up his hands and tell me to flare at just the right time. It wasn’t perfect, but I stumbled on the ground and mostly stood. I paid and headed home to make some lunch. It was a good morning.

Softball is over

We finished the tournament, so softball is now over. It was double elimination. We lost our first game on monday, but not by much. I made a stupid play that I’ll be paying for a while. I was on second. The ball got hit into the outfield. As I got to third, the third base coach told me to stop. But I saw that the ball was still in the outfield, so I figured I could make it. Well, they rocketed it to home, the guy at home caught it, and all I could do was slide and hope. Well, I paid dearly for not listening. Scrapes everywhere. And I got out. hrmph.

The second game we won. We had a lot of good plays and were pretty solid, though tired.

Tuesday was our third game, and we were to play a highly seeded team. The game went quickly. For the most part, the first few innings were 3 up and 3 down. One inning we managed to get 3 outs with a total of 4 pitches (the 3rd pitch was a ball). In the middle of the game, I pitched, the batter swung, a connection was made, and the ball zoomed straight at me. I tried to dodge it, but got hit squarely on the leg, just above my cleat. I heard the impact and felt the pain. The ball bounced towards first base, but not quickly enough to get an out. Play stopped then so that I could unleash a healthy stream of words of agony. I walked it off and was able to continue to play, but the mark and the bump were pretty much instantaneous.

My range of motion was severly limited for a few days on the foot. I could bend my foot downward more and more, but up hurt a lot. There was surprisingly no bruise, and I’m about normal now, though it still hurts to massage it. Needless to say, after the scrapes and the foot, I was a little relieved not to have to play anymore.

In all, I’m glad I played. It was a lot of fun, I met some people, and got to develop a skill.

Jump Number 3

I think I’m getting hooked. I think a big part of it is that I want to do it right, so I’m going to keep doing it until I don’t make any mistakes. This time there were good parts and bad parts, but more good than bad. The good parts were my exit and my landing. I hopped out right, had a good arch, and was facing straight into the wind. The bad part was that I felt good about it and relaxed, so I lost my arch. Of course, I didn’t know this until the instructor told me on the ground. D’oh. I watched the chute deploy (it’s kinda fun to see. The instructors say not to look at it until 5 seconds after you jump so that you don’t get scared and think your chute is broken, but I like to watch anyway.), and was grateful when it all came out fine. Did the normal maneuvers to bleed off altitude and get closer to the field. I did the flare just right and was able to land on my feet and come to a stop still standing, which was good.

I’m looking forward to going again. I’m going to do a better job next time, but I’m also going to have to rely less on the radio and steer myself for the most part.

wheeeee. I like this sport.

Two great games

Monday I had one of my best disc golf flash games ever. At the end of the first nine I was at +4. Each of the holes is a par 3, so getting only 4 over is pretty good. The back nine was even better. I was +0 on the back nine. I got a birdie on the tenth hole, but screwed it up on the 11th hole, so overall I ended up at +4 on 18 holes. This is a personal best on this course, and also the first time I’ve ever gotten par on the 18th hole, which is probably 3 miles long and the water hazards have crocodiles.

The tonight was a softball game. The first time we played this team we lost, but this time we won. We played a good game. A couple innings we had a bunch of errors that let them get a few runs, but we were able to hold them off most of the time and score quite a bit. In the bottom of the last inning, the score was tied and we were up to bat. All we had to do was score 1 run. I was up to bat first. I made it on base. The next guy got me to second. Then the third person hit it into the outfield and I made it home, ending the game. We celebrated by dousing our coach in the ice water she brought for us. She then bought us drinks and wings. The softball season is almost over now. We have the tournament, and then we’re done. Our team did pretty well overall considering it’s a completely new team. At least we did better than some teams that have been established for years.

ow ow ow – different reason this time

It seems an unusual proportion of my entries describe the various pains I am experiencing. From getting beat up at racquetball to hard landings skydiving, I have a knack for putting myself in situations that result in my body expressing great dissatisfaction. Yesterday I did it again.

My friend Joe has a sailboat, and yesterday he threw a bit of a party on it. There were 7 of us: me, Joe (owner of the boat and works at the lab), Jeff (who is also on my softball team and works at the lab), Ben (works at the lab, too), Carolyn (good friend who works at the lab with Ben, Jeff, Joe, and Cassandra), Cassandra (intern at the lab for 10 weeks), and Ben’s friend’s cousin Emma, a Swedish girl spending some time here. We had a bit of trouble getting the boat out of harbor because there was no wind, but eventually we pushed ourselves off of other boats long enough to get onto the lake. There we ate and drank and told jokes and jumped in the water and swam and in general had a good time. Later the wind picked up and we were actually able to sail some, getting up to a pretty good clip.

In all, it was a lot of fun. I learned a bit about sailing: it’s not nearly as hard as you’d think. But the brain cells I dedicated to the art of sailing may have prevented other brain cells from the art of instinct, because I am now paying for something I should have done but didn’t.

Now I was responsible enough to put on sunscreen. I got my arms, my legs, and even behind my neck. I’m not sure why I didn’t do my face, though. For the next few days I will be the very model of solemnity because moving my face hurts too much to be anything else. The other stupid thing I did was put my sunscreen on while I had my shirt on, then go out on the boat and take my shirt off to swim. Now I’ve got three distinct colors on my arms. Most of my arm, up to a little above the elbow is a satisfying tan. From there it tapers off to white, where I managed to put on sunscreen while my shirt was on. A few inches after that, it fades into a bright salmon color (guys don’t turn pink, they turn salmon).

So right now I’m sitting shirtless, applying lotion every once in a while, mostly mad at myself for not doing what I knew I should have and wondering if I’ll get skin cancer now.

I do have a meeting at work tomorrow, but frankly I much prefer being shirtless, so I think I’ll work from home and just go to work for the one meeting.

We Win Again!

Last night was our third win in softball. I don’t know how many times we’ve lost, but that’s not important. What is important is that we’ve gotten a lot better as a team and we’re happy with ourselves, and last night was our chance to prove it. In our first game of softball we got stomped about 20-5. I’m not sure if that’s the exact score or not, but we were royally whipped. Last night we played them again. We played a tight game, catching what we were supposed to, making our throws, getting on base, etc. I didn’t do anything spectacular during the game. I scored a couple times, hit a couple base hits, caught some pop flies, the usual stuff. But what was really cool was that we were able to play such a solid game and hold them back while we continued to score. In the end, we won 13-9, and we were very happy pirates.

I didn’t die!!!

Today I can cross another thing of my list of things to do before death. Fortunately, it’s not a thing that I did RIGHT before death. It was awesome. I really can’t believe I let myself jump out of the plane. I was surprised I did it. The landing wasn’t perfect, but it I’m alive and well and nothing is broken, so I have nothing to complain about.

I’ll go into all the gory details in case you’re interested. Last night we had a few hours of training. Essentially, we watched some videos, with the jumpmaster pausing every once in a while to provide more detail, amend the video, and answer questions. I went to bed, but didn’t sleep well. In the morning, I woke at 5:30, and managed to convince myself to stay in bed for another hour before actually getting up. I timed myself making a full breakfast from scratch. I had 2 scrambled eggs, hash browns (from a real potato, not frozen), 3 sausages, and a glass of juice. 6 minutes from start to finish. The hash browns are what took the longest to cook. I wrote down all my passwords on a sticky note just in case, but it was surprisingly hard to do. I know all my passwords better by habit than knowing what they actually are. I couldn’t do some of them without trying them first on the keyboard.

We all arrived at the airport by 8, got in our jumpsuits, and got another hour of training. I was graced with a bright bright yellow suit. The jump order was exactly what I had hoped for. Ryan was jumping first, I was second, and Dave was third. We were in the first plane. Doug and Wendy showed up to take pictures and watch. We got in the plane and strapped in. We were facing backwards and sitting on the floor. There was only one seat for the pilot; the rest was padded floor. The neat thing about facing backwards was that I could watch as we took off and climbed, and I could see outside the window easily. It was a great view. I picked out features I knew, made sure I saw the drop zone, and enjoyed the ride.

After we took off, we essentially made a big circle as we climbed to 3500 feet. As we approached the airport again, the jumpmaster opened the door, and cool air immediately swirled in. It was remarkable how clearly I could see the ground from the air, which made sense because there was just air. Ryan got up to the door, stuck his feet out and planted his hands in place. The jumpmaster told him to look at the wing and jump. After some hesitation, he dropped out of sight. The door closed and we looked for him. His chute had opened fine and he was doing well.

We were flying what is called an IAD, or Instructor Assisted Deployment. This means that the instructor is holding the first chute in his hand and throws it out when you jump. The first chute catches the air and pulls the main chute out, so you are in free fall for only a short period of time before the chute is fully opened. Ryan’s worked perfectly. As we watched him prepare for landing, though, it didn’t look so successful. He seemed to be way closer to the runway than the field, and as we watched the shadow catch up to the parachute, we could see it was going to be bad. Of course, we were about a mile away from him, so we didn’t know for sure. It turned out that he had glanced off a suburban and landed on his feet just fine. He wasn’t hurt, and the suburban was only slightly damaged, but it wasn’t enough to deter him from going up a second time later.

The timing of it worked out that as one person jumps the plane describes a big circle, and almost as soon as the jumper lands, the plane is in position for the next jumper. It was my turn. I put my feet outside the plane and my hands in position. My head couldn’t believe that I was about to do this, and when the jumpmaster told me to look at the wing and jump, I paused for a second thinking maybe I wouldn’t. Then the more assertive and exciting part of me kicked my own butt and I jumped out. I don’t exactly remember the first few milliseconds. As soon as I was aware, I was trying to kick a little, which is wrong, so I forced myself to assume the arch position we had been taught. Then I realized I hadn’t been counting, which is also wrong, so I picked up at about 3, figuring that to be about where I was in the count. Then I felt the chute deploy. I waited a second, then looked up to make sure everything was correct. I was flying with a 9-celled square student’s chute. Amazingly, all my cells had inflated properly, and I was in full control of the chute. The radio rubber-banded to my chest strap buzzed to life as the guy on the ground told me to gain control of the chute and start turning. I did as he told me, confirming that I could hear him just fine. He continued to give me instruction as I descended, all the while watching the scenery, the drop zone, everything I could get my eyes on. It was great fun.

As I was preparing to land, I saw that I was going to make the field, and I was glad of that. I knew that at about 15 feet I was supposed to flare, which would stop my forward motion and I would be able to land on my feet, but I was also watching the guy on the ground giving me instructions. He was supposed to put his hands down when I was supposed to flare. I kept watching him, not seeing how close I was to the ground, but he kept his hands up. I quickly decided that he was never going to put his hands down, so at the last possible second I did, but it wasn’t enough. I also made the mistake of lifting my legs, which is also wrong, so I landed squarely on my butt and slid for a bit. It was a little painful for a while, but I quickly recovered, glad that I was at least safe on the ground, and only a few yards from bullseye.

You’ll notice I made quite a few mistakes on my way down, and I was well aware of them immediately after I had done them, but it wasn’t catastrophic at all, and the next time I jump I’m sure I’ll do a lot better. This is really a testament to the safety of the sport now. If I could screw up as much as I did and still be totally fine, then it should be no problem for anybody else.

That said, let me regale you with the excitement that was Dave’s landing. As he descended his final feet, he seemed to be doing the opposite of what the guy on the radio was telling him, and doing it to the extreme. He lost a lot of altitude while he was screwing around, and there was no way he was going to make it to the field. In fact, he ended up on the tarmac 100 yards from where he was supposed to. From our vantage on the field, it looked like he had either hit a plane, a fence, or a building. In fact, he was fine, but it was probably not Wendy’s best experience, seeing her husband drop out of the sky far from where he should.

For the next plane, two other people went up, and Ryan decided to go again, too. There was a different person on the radio on the ground, and he managed to bring everyone on to the field with great landings. This time I took pictures, which we’ll be sending to the other people who jumped. When I got home I took great enjoyment in burning the postit with my passwords. It really made me realize that I was home and everything was ok.

So to summarize, I had a great time. I’m glad I did it, it seems really safe even after all the silly mistakes we made, and it’s definitely worth doing.

In case I die…

Don’t touch my stuff. It’s booby trapped.

I’m kidding. Nothing is booby trapped, and I hope those in charge of taking care of my estate will give it to those who need it.

I will be skydiving tomorrow morning. Yes, I will be resisting a natural urge bred for millions of years and firmly ingrained into our very nature, and jumping out of a plane perfectly capable of landing safely on its own.

The truth is that I was running a much higher risk driving down to Corvallis than I will be tomorrow morning. It will essentially be a static line dive; as soon as I jump the chute gets pulled, so my time in freefall is in the milliseconds. I will have a reserve chute in case something goes wrong. I will have had hours of training. There will be a radio in my helmet with a guy on the ground giving me very explicit instructions the whole way down. If the radio fails he will have very large signs. The jumpmaster has had thousands of jumps. The scariest part was probably signing the waiver where it says “I understand that I will be jumping out of an airplane, which can be dangerous and kill or injure you.”

But my gut doesn’t care what the truth is, and my brain is still wondering what compelled me to decide to jump out of a plane. Tomorrow I plan to have fun and be safe. I just hope that by tomorrow afternoon I’m still having fun and being safe.


I had a softball game today, and some interesting things happened that are worth noting. First, it was raining. It wasn’t enough to put us off, and it was just enough to keep us cool. In all, the rain was pleasant, though it did make handling the ball a little interesting.

Second, I was wearing a baseball cap. This is very atypical of me; I only have one cap and it’s too small. But it’s what I had, and I’d rather put up with the tightness than have drops collect on my scalp and tickle me as they collect and ooze down my skin. Sometimes it gets annoying having such short hair.

Third, we had a remarkable amount of team spirit throughout the game. Our team name is the Plutonium Pirates, so we were yelling Rrrrrrr!!! a lot. It was quite fun. We also played a good game. For a while we were up by 7. Then in the last two innings they made it all up and then some, so we ended up losing, but not by much.

I managed to score, but not without taking some damage. I was running home, and I probably shouldn’t have, because the ball got to the catcher way earlier than I expected. It was too late to turn around, so I just bullied right through him. I ended up very dirty, and likely will be bruised tomorrow, but the ball ended up outside of the catcher’s mitt, so I had successfully scored.

We have a new player, Julia, who joined this week. Unfortunately, the other team didn’t have enough females, so we loaned her out to them for the game. Well, the real unfortunate part is that I had to pitch to her. No, I’m wrong. There was nothing wrong with pitching to her. In fact, it was great. She’s not the kind of batter who waits for me to throw 15 times before finally getting a pitch she likes. That drives me nuts, and throws me off. No, she swung on the first pitch, which surprised the heck out of me because she said she hadn’t played since elementary school, and connected well, which surprised me even more, and hit it straight to me. And I caught it. Twice. So I guess the REAL unfortunate part was that I was responsible for getting her out twice. It was already odd that she was on the other team. And I had to get her out. Here’s hoping she won’t hold a grudge. I suspect, though, that she’s the kind of person who would hold a grudge if I had been soft on her.

Anyway, it was a pleasant game, and everybody was happy and friendly, and even though we lost we still had a good time.