Wednesday, June 01, 2016

The 152 and the Tomahawk


Well, I haven’t taken the time to write in a while. Life just has habit of taking all that extra time I used to have to sit down and write. These days, I’ll take a bit of downtime at work to start the entry and then I’ll send it home to finish it and load it up, usually after everyone has gone to bed.

 My last real entry spoke about my dual flight time in the Diamond. Well, since then, I have decided to try and finish up my PPL.  Both of my girls both really like to fly and that has given me the push I need to get in there and finish it up. I have re-taken my ground school, but don’t feel like I retained enough to take the written yet, so I’m studying when I can and I’ll take the test when I'm ready. There is really no rush to get it completed and since the test changes in a couple weeks, I’ll probably wait until the test prep changes also to get it right.  Until then, I’m still flying.

 Back in April, I was able to get a half hour in a Cessna 152. Although I have flown in high-winged aircraft on many occasions, I had never left seated one before. This was a fun .5 hour and it was my first flight with Gene, who is my instructor until he leaves to join Delta in July. During the flight, Gene got to see what I knew and after a couple of turns, he had me going in and doing pattern work. I was able to get 3 touch and go’s and 1 full stop landing in that quick time. He was impressed with my piloting and said we should have no problems getting me to solo in the Tomahawk after a few hours.  Dad was there on the ground and he said the landings all looked good.


Fast forward to 22 May 2016. Gene and I go up in the Tomahawk for our first hour in that together. I made sure to let him know I was nowhere near as comfortable in the “Tommy” as I was in the 152. Although, that was my first flight in the 152 and I have quite a few hours in the Tomahawk. We took off and shot 3 touch and go’s right off the bat. Although not great by any stretch of the imagination, I was able to get three somewhat decent landings and the plane was able to take back off after one of them. We then climbed to 3000 and did some steep turns, slow flight, slow flight turns, power on stalls, power off stalls and one engine out emergency landing simulation to a farmer’s field. I had no issues with the tasks and was even to stall it twice without completely dropping a wing. He even stated that when people do as well as I do in the cockpit, he can get a bit bored at times. We then went back to the pattern for 4 more landings. The first three were, again, somewhat decent and the as we were taking off for the last time, he said, “Let’s make this one a full stop and be done for the day.” I told him since he told me it was last one of the day, I’ll probably screw it up. Not on purpose, but it normally happens. Crosswind, downwind, base and final all went as planned. As I started to round out for my flare, I ended up being a few feet lower than I thought (knowing how high I am off the runway is an issue I need to figure out ASAP) the wheels hit and we bounced pretty hard. The plane bounced and hit the tarmac and again, bounced. But, as soon as it bounced this time, I also got hit with a quick crosswind that totally fucked me up. As Gene started reaching for the yoke, I also pushed in the throttle and then thought better of it and pulled it back out again, which totally fucked up Gene.  He was able to get control and keep us on the ground. But, after that landing, he straight up earned his pay for that hour.  After we left the runway, he said, “You made me work for that one. Oh, and I think your Dad is over there and saw that landing.”  Well, shit.. The only thing I could come back with was, “Are you still bored??” :)  During the debrief, we need to work on how far I am above the runway and if I start to bounce in the future, either full throttle and take off or leave the throttle out and get it down. The throttle in-out really could have ruined our day.  All in all, other than that last landing, which wasn't much more than a controlled crash without damage to the airplane, it was a good hour. I feel better in the Tomahawk than I have in the past and I actually feel like I can get the hang of this airplane.

After I parked the airplane in the hanger, I was sitting in there decompressing with Dad and we talked about the last landing. His words of wisdom: “I want to you have a landing like that every once in a while to keep you from getting complacent about your skills.”  Point Taken.
Until next time..



Picture 1 is the 152 I flew and picture 2 is my view of the Tomahawk while decompressing in the hanger after that botched landing.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

One of these days...


One of these days, I'm going to drive to work in this traffic and NOT call someone a motherfucker. Today was not that day, but one day it WILL happen.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Diamond in the Air


Today I did something I haven’t done in a VERY long time. Since January 27, 2004 to be exact. I logged an hour of dual flight training in my logbook. Back in 2003/04, I was going through flight training. I originally started at KMAC flying the AMD Alarus and doing pretty good. I was able to solo with less than 20 hours of flight time and was starting to work on my cross country training. Unfortunately, after going through 4 different instructors in the course of 4 months, all the different procedures and ways of doing things, I got frustrated with the way things were run at that flight school and moved to a single instructor and using my dad’s Piper Tomahawk.
  After my first flight in the “Trauma-Hawk” I went from solo pilot to a “never been in a cockpit before” student. That airplane was so twitchy and the site picture was so different, it took me 4 steps back in my training. I tried to stick with it, but to get any progression in my training, I had to fly 3 times a week. Paying an instructor for 2 hours a day, three times a week, gets very expensive, very quick, so I backed off on using the trainer because of finances. We decided I would fly with Dad until I got used to the Tomahawk and when I was to the point where I could just be evaluated, we would get the trainer involved again. Of course, life has a way of altering the best laid plans. After moving houses and having 2 kids, I haven’t been able to fly with Dad near as much as I needed to get used to the Tomahawk. During all these years, the flight school at PXE opened up and they have a couple of Diamond aircraft. A 2 seat DA20 (top picture) and 2 4 seat DA40’s. Ever since seeing my first Diamond, I’ve always to fly one. It has a stick control as opposed to the yoke all others I’ve been in have. (bottom picture) So, for Christmas last year, Dad got me an hour in the 20 so I could try it out.

  Today was that day. I met up with my friend and instructor, Mr. Bob Hamilton, at PXE and we got ready for the flight. We went over the pre-flight procedures and then Bob showed me around the aircraft as the preflight was completed. We got in, belted up and started the inside preflight procedures. Bob taxied us over to the hold short line and performed the engine run up. After, then, I had the aircraft and he guided me through the take off since I was unfamiliar with the airplane’s procedures. He helped a good bit with the first take off and after we were about 100 foot up, it was all good. We flew out to Butler doing some maneuvers on the way and then back to PXE. The airplane was an absolute joy to fly. After I trimmed it out, it was 1 finger on the stick control the entire flight. Even though I haven’t logged an hour with instruction, I have still spent time in the air in Dad’s, so most of it came to me fairly easily. Bob was happy with my performance during the flight. On the way back, Bob showed me a couple of cool higher G maneuvers and they were fun under his control.  As we neared PXE, he talked me through the landing procedures and helped me a bit with the flare since I hadn’t seen one in the 20 before. Everything was very comfortable. We still had a bit of time left my hour, so after landing, we went back out and did a quick take off, pattern and landing again. Most of that landing, except for a bit on the flare again, I did on my own. Bob was a great cheerleader and was impressed with my handling of the airplane. I guess when an instructor tells you that they would fly with you anytime, you’ve done ok. This airplane is the first one I have every gotten into and was completely comfortable in it just minutes after take-off. What a great little airplane.

  This morning was blast and I really appreciate my Dad for getting me the hour, Bob for flying with me and, of course, Heather for letting me take the time to do it.
Until next time…

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Thursday, April 02, 2015

1, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3....


  In my last post, I discussed how I was NOT born to be a skydiver. Yeah, I totally proved that statement this weekend.  Last time, which happened to be September 2014, I was able to jump Level Three AFF with two instructors. I didn’t do good, but I didn’t do horrible either, so although I had to repeat Level 3, they cleared me to jump with only one instructor the next time. Unfortunately, the “next time” didn’t come until 29 March 2015, 6 months after the last jump. When I went in to talk to manifest, they said they would let instructors decide if I jump level 3 with two instructors or go back to level 2. They decided I would stay at Level 3 with 2 instructors.

  On to the first jump of the day briefing. Since it had been 6 months, I got quizzed on everything from malfunctions, the nuisances, to landing priorities, pulling priorities, hand signals, etc, etc, etc. It was a long first jump briefing, which it should be after a multi-month layoff. We get my equipment and check it all over and then get manifested on the 2nd load of the day. One of my friends that works there as a Tandem Instructor, James, showed up to video my jump for me since I have never had any outside video taken.  At the 20 minute call, we get geared up and go over the dive flow, which is very little on this level. We exit, I do my circle of awareness, 1 practice pull, a set of toe taps and then they will try and let go of me for the first time to see if I can stay stable. The ride to altitude is uneventful. The door opens and the fun jumpers bail out a one single and a 4-way. I was next.  James crawls out onto the back step and waits for us. My reserve side instructor, Mike, goes out and my main side, Gary, motions me to get in the door. Right hand, right foot, left hand, left foot. Check in, Check out, Prop, Up, Down, Arch, Arch Arch!!! And, holy shit did I fuck up that exit. Instead of just jumping to the side and letting gravity do its thing, somehow, I almost launched into a dive and in doing so, tumbled us all out of whack. We tumbled so much, Mike let go of me and let Gary get us straightened out. After he did, Mike flew back in to take his side of me again. By the time everything got straightened out and I was able to get my COA, practice pull, toe taps done, they gave me a couple of body corrections and we were already at 5500 feet. I waved and pulled. Wow.. You know, it’s one thing to get a bit rusty after taking some time off away something you know how to do, but when take time off from something you don’t even have a clue how to do to begin with, when you come back, you aren’t rusty, you straight up SUCK!!!  On top of all this, we had a bad spot out of the plane and there was no way I was going to make my “playground” to do my canopy work. To start with, I thought I was going to be lucky to get back to the airport since I was down wind of the landing zone. But, due to pulling at 5500 feet, I had plenty of altitude to make it back and even had to bleed some off as I did a straight in approach. The landing was my typical butt slide in my landing area, so nothing new there.

  The debrief was humbling and disheartening. I totally screwed the pooch on the exit and that set the tone for the whole jump. Needless to say, Level 3 was going to have to happen again, but Gary was ok with me dropping down to one instructor if I was comfortable with it, which I was. James was leaving, so he handed me his SD cards from his cameras and Gary and I watched the video from the jump to explain what I did wrong. The video is awesome from the jacked up exit to when I pull. I was able to see everything I did wrong and we were going to do things better for the next jump.

  I manifested for the next load and we got ready. Again the ride to altitude was a non-event. This time, it was just me and Gary. No Reserve side instructor, no photographer. At 13,500, the door opens and the fun jumpers bail. Gary checks to make sure we are clear and then motions for me to get in the door. Right, right, left, left. Check in, Prop, Up, Down, Arch. This time, I do the exit correctly and it seems to be going much better. We, as a unit, are stable right out the door and I do my COA, practice pull and toe taps. We’re still at about 10,000 feet at this time, so Gary starts giving me my body corrections. Legs out, hands in, arch, hands out, legs out, arch.  Unfortunately, my little pea brain only seems to be able to complete two of the tasks at a time. If I had my hands right and my arch right, my legs were in. If my legs were right and my hands were right, my arch was off. When I fix one, I would screw up one of the others. We did this for the entire free fall and FINALLY, at about 7000 feet, I was able to get everything where they were supposed to be. Unfortunately, at 7000 feet, I have less than 3 seconds before the freefall is over and I have to pull, so Gary never even let go of me. We did open up right over the “playground,” so I was able to do my canopy work and my normal landing pattern. The only issue I had after opening was, as I came in to land, the wind had completely died and I had no headwind to slow me down with my flare. I came in pretty hot and with my ill-timed flare, all I heard on the radio was Gary saying, “Prepare to PLF.” Of course, all I managed was, again, my typical butt-slide landing but, in this case, it was an extra-long slide due to forward speed being faster than normal.  That ended up being one of the harder landings I’ve had since I started this endeavor.  For the jump, although I did finally get into position, I was about 4000 feet too low when it happened. I need to be able to get stable within the first few thousand feet for it to count. The next level, I am supposed to be stable and do maneuvers without assistance, so to be able to get stable quick is paramount and I totally except the fact that I’m not ready to move to level 4 yet. So, level 3 yet again, is on the horizon. Gary said he's not ready to hand me a bowling ball just yet, so there is hope for me.  Maybe some tunnel time is in order?? 

  On a good note for the day, my fear of the open door is fading away.  Even after a multi-month absence from the door, when it opened up for the first time that day, I felt some serious butterflies as my turn approached, but there wasn’t that deathly, absolute fear that I remembered from the first tandem. The second jump of the day, I barely even gave it any thought when the cold air rushed in from the open door. So, although I’m not doing so well at flying my body yet, my mind freak over that open door is most definitely on the downswing. And knowing how terrified I was that first time, this is HUGE!!
Pics taken by James Harker..
Top: My totally jacked up exit on Jump #1. (I'm in Red)
Bottom: The only millisecond I was in the correct position during Jump #1.
Until next time… 

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Sunday, September 07, 2014

Born to jump!!! Not...

  There are certain people in this world that are born to do certain things. Michael Jordan and LeBron James were born to play basketball. Derek Jeter was born to lay baseball. Tony Stewart was born to drive race cars. Some things just come naturally to people. Well, as I found out Saturday, Dale Hall is not a born skydiver.
  When I took my initial scuba diving classes, my instructor said he saw something in me in the first class and thought to himself, "This guy is a scuba diver." And, most of the stuff did come pretty easy to me. I have gotten all my ratings with ease and have never had a real issue with anything new concerning scuba diving.  I can assure you, my skydiving instructors are not thinking the same thing about me.
  Saturday, 6 Sept 2014 was my Level 3 AFF jump. Level three is where they let go of you for the first time. And, if you remember the multitude of steps I had to do in Level 2, that I did all in the wrong order, this jump was MUCH easier.  All I had to do on this time was: Exit, and when stable, call out altitude one time, 1 practice pull, tap my toes together, and then stay steady when they let go. Hold heading, lock at 6000, wave off and pull at 5500. Under canopy, I only had to try and stall my canopy and then I could play around until 2000 feet and then start my landing run at 1000.  Easy-peasy!!! Well, the steps were easy to remember.
  Today, my instructors were two I had never met before. My main-side was Ryan and my reserve-side was Ashton. Ashton is a tiny female that weighs about 100, if that. So, because she doesn't fall very fast, they put me in a HUGE jumpsuit to slow me down. (Only because she's tiny and not because I'm a fat ass.. Um, yeah. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it)  After I did my first jump of the day briefing with Gary, they hooked me up with Ashton and Ryan. We did the gear check and when we got the 20 minute call, we geared up and went to the mock up to practice the exit and dive flow.  Everything seemed good to go.  We boarded and after doing my handle checks and practice wave and pull at 5500 feet, Ashton turned around and did the final gear check for me and we went back over everything. At about 11,000 feet, the "skydiver handshake" was being done all around and around 13,500 feet, the door opened. The green light comes on and the Silver Wings pile out in one big group. After them, a single fun jumper went and then it was my turn before a big load of tandems. Again, the nerves were there but nothing that couldn't be handled. That truly does get better each time. In the door, Right Hand, Right Foot, Left hand, Left foot. Check in, Check out. Prop! Up! Down! Arch, Arch, Arch! Down the "hill" we go and we get stable. I check altitude and yell over to Ashton. I didn't wait for her to give me the "OK" and moved over to Ryan. Then, I see both of them give me the "Legs" signal. I push them out and get better. I do my practice pull and my toe taps. Check altitude. I feel them start to let go, but I keep feeling like I want to turn. I get the "Arch" sign and try that and then I see another "Toe Tap" signal from Ryan. I do it, but I still feel like I want to turn. I'm struggling to stay steady and although not tumbling through the sky, I feel totally out of control. Maybe not "out of control" but definitely not in control. I'm watching altitude while struggling to maintain heading and stability. I finally lock on at 6000 and wave off and pull at 5500. (I was happy I was finally able to wave off and pull on my own this time) When the canopy opens, both left and right end cells didn't inflate, but I grab the toggles, one quick flare and everything is square, stable and steerable.  Under canopy, I did my stall. You can't really stall that big of a canopy, but I did get it to slow enough where it pendulum-ed me forward. After that, I just played around with spins and turns over the playgroup. Over in the distance a big thunderstorm was happening and it looked awesome from a 3000 foot vantage point. That was the first time I wished I had a camera with me. Ryan talked to me a bit on the radio to keep me away from some tandems and then I brought myself for another text-book butt-scoot landing. One of these I'm going to stand one up, but not today.  After I was down, Ryan came over to help me with picking up the canopy. I thought I knew how to do it, but I was so bad at it, he had to have me put it back on the ground and start over three times before I finally got it right.
  During my debrief, we went over the dive. To make a long story not too much longer, I had de-arched slightly during the dive and I had one leg that was a bit lower than the other. Those two issues caused me to want to spin. I asked if they even let go of me and he said they did, but they stayed close and blocked me with their arms to keep me from spinning. I never got out of the wanting to spin stage, but they were hands off for most of the jump.  He said my canopy run was fine. He said my landing was started about 2 feet too late and I was slightly slow on the flair which resulted in the butt scoot. If I start a bit higher and flair a bit faster, I'll be spot on. All in all, it was good jump, however, in level 4 you must go hands free while making 2 90 degree turns and dock with your instructor on forward flight, they weren't confident to let me go on to that level. He said, to help me progress, he does feel confident I can go with one instructor, but he wants me to repeat the Level 3 dive flow with a single instructor. Although bummed that I didn't totally pass it, I totally agree with his assessment. I have to be able to stable before I can turn and dock. So, instead of moving on the Level 4, I will be doing, what I call,  Level 3-B.
  Like I said, some people are born to do certain things and those things come natural to them. I am not a born skydiver, but I can be taught.
Until next time...
Top pic is me coming in on final.
Bottom pic: Waking back in with Ryan after FINALLY getting my chute picked up.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

AFF Level 2

After 2 failed attempts of trying to get my Level 2 Accelerated Free Fall (AFF) jump done, I was finally able to complete it this weekend!  The first time, I went up on my birthday with my dad. The weather looked bad, but I decided to chance it. I did my first jump of the day briefing, which consists of all the safety stuff you learned in the First Jump Course, and then go over the dive flow with the instructors. However, the weather never cleared and I didn’t get to jump. I went back two weeks later to try again. Unfortunately, I had helped teach some scuba classes the week in between and got a nasty ear infection with a lot of pressure behind the eardrum by the time that next week rolled around. Again, I went up for the first jump of the day briefing and did the dive flow with the instructors, but couldn’t jump for fear of blowing out my eardrum.  Everyone up there agreed with the no jump decision also.

  So, after a week of meds, my ear was better and I decided to head up to the dropzone, without an appointment, hoping they could fit me in during the day and get Level 2 done.  After hanging out for a couple hours, I got the call to meet up with my instructor. Again, I was paired up with Gary and we went over the first jump of the day briefing. Then we got my rig, inspected on it and set it aside. After that was done, we went over the dive flow for the jump. This was the first jump that lets you start to “fly” as a skydiver. The dive flow consists of: Once stable, you check altitude and call it out to both instructors. They will either give the “OK” sign or give you body correction signals. After that, you do three practice pulls of your pilot chute. When that is complete, you are to check altitude, do a 90 degree right turn, check altitude, 3 second forward flight, altitude, 90 degree left turn, altitude, 3 second forward flight. You repeat that until 6000 feet. At 6000, lock onto altimeter, at 5500 feet, wave off and deploy chute. After the chute deploys, I was to do my control checks and then do two 360 sweeping turns under canopy. After that, I could play around until 2000 feet. At 1000 feet, I start my landing run and then land. Yes, there were a lot of steps in this jump to remember. I had mentally rehearsed it for 4 weeks, so I pretty much had it down pat. Or, so I thought.

  When we got the 20 minute call for our load, we geared up and I met my second instructor, John. We went over to the mock up and practiced our exit and went through the dive flow and hand signals again.  Everything was good to go, so we sat down and relaxed until we were told to load up. We got loaded up and did a handle check for the 5th or 6th time. Once we were up I was watching the altitude and at 5500, I did my practice wave off and pull as requested. We were up to 10,000 feet and I could feel the butterflies start to rumble in my belly. At 13,000 feet, we turned into the jump run and the door was opened. The air felt so good that, for one of the first time, I thought, that feels good, let’s get outside. The “fun jumpers” exited and then it was my turn before the tandems went out. I got in position and was told the get in the door way. “Right Hand, Right Foot, Left Hand, Left Foot.”  In the doorway, “Check In. Check Out. Prop, Up, Down, Arch! Arch! Arch!” This time, as we went down “the hill” I remembered to keep the saying “Arch!” and did my best to keep it going.. After we were stable, I checked altitude and repeated it to the instructors. I got one “Legs Out” signal and complied. Nothing but “OK’s” after that. I did my practice pulls. Now to fly.  Right turn. Left Turn. Shit, forgot to go forward! Shit, forgot to check altitude. Altitude. Forward, 3 seconds. Right turn. Shit, forgot to check altitude. Altitude. Forward. Look at altitude again and googles had fogged a bit and as I was moving my arm to see better I noticed I was already at 5500 feet!! Just as I started my wave off, I saw the “Pull Now!” signal, so I pulled. Well, damn!! As much as I practiced all those moves in order, I jacked that all up!! I looked up at my canopy after my 4 second count and noticed my left side end cells didn’t inflate. Not a big deal. They go over this in the first jump of the day briefing. I unstowed my brakes and flared. I looked up. Still not inflated. I flared again.  I looked up and they inflated with ease. Cool. Now, it was time to play. I pulled on the right toggle and around I went, watching altitude as I spun down. Same with the left and then just played with the toggles until I got to about 2000 feet. By then, Gary got on the radio with me and had me do a couple things and then I started my landing run. The wind had been pretty strong all day, but it had died down a bit so I ended up getting near the landing area a bit high, so on to doing some “S turns“ to lose some altitude. I came down slowly and heard Gary on the radio saying, “Wait for it. Wait for it. Wait for it. Ok, start your flare” I flared and touched down just as light as I could. I almost stood up the landing, but, my feet were just a bit in front of me and I had on my Chucks, so my feet slid out from under me and I ended up on my butt.  No big deal. It was still a soft landing and I was happy to get it done that smooth.  However, I was a bit bummed that I screwed up my dive flow and I was wondering what the instructors were going to say about it.  I had a bit of hope about passing when Gary came over the radio and said, “Ok.. Good jump. I’ll come help you with your chute.” I picked up everything and headed in for my debrief. Unfortunately, John, who was my Mainside instructor and would debrief me, had a tandem to do on the next load, so I had to wait until he got back down before I could get briefed.  John got back down and we did my debrief.  I got the normal, “arch more” and the missing the 6000 foot lock-on altitude. The dive flow was no big deal to them. They said I only needed to do one of each maneuver to pass and I was able to get 2 or 3 of each, and they were all executed correctly, so I was good even if it was out of order.  He gave me a few things to work on for legs and arch, but all-in-all, they were happy with the jump and I have been cleared to jump Level 3 next time!!  On level 3, I get turned loose for the first time and try to stay stable on my own with the instructors staying close. Whoo-hoo!! One more step!!

Until next time….
PS: Not me in the pic.. Just one I found on the web of an AFF jump..

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Tuesday, July 08, 2014

First Jump Course and AFF Level 1

  As I mentioned in my last two entries, I'm getting into skydiving. After doing the two tandem jumps, I realized I could conquer my fear and actually get certified to jump, so I signed up for the First Jump Course (Ground School) and the first actual jump. The type of jump training I'm taking is called "Accelerated Freefall" or AFF for short.  There are 7 levels to AFF. The first three jumps, you jump from 14,000 feet with two instructors, each holding onto you as you freefall.  There are certain tasks you must do correctly during the free fall and then you deploy your chute and when it's time to land, they will talk you down on the radio. The next 3 jumps, you jump with only 1 instructor who only holds on to you when necessary and they only talk to you on the radio if necessary. Jump 7 puts it all together with one instructor. If you do everything good on that jump, you are then certified to jump solo (sans instructors) and work on proficiency tasks until you get 25 jumps and can be awarded your "A" license.
  This past Saturday, I started with step 1. I got to Skydive Atlanta at 0750 for an 0800 class start time. After sign in, and getting our student hand book and log, the instructor, Nick, came out, introduced himself to me and the other 3 guys in the class. Of the 4 of us, two of us had some previous jump experience and the other two had zero. How those two got up the nerve to try AFF with not even doing a tandem first is well beyond my comprehension. I had to do two tandems before I could decide to try it. But, Good on Them.  The class took most of the day. Nick taught us everything he could from showing us the airplane, the parts of the rig, how to put it on, how to arch, how to throw out the pilot chute, the dive flow, hand signals, pull priorities, how to do emergency procedures, landing patterns and altitudes, decision altitudes, how to deal with nuisances and malfunctions and how to tell the difference between the two, how to land, how to recover, and the list goes on. As you can see, with a 6 hour class, there is a lot of information to take in. Near the end, there started to be a bit of information overload. 
  After the sit down portion was over, we headed out to the mock-up where they have the door of the airplane built to practice exits. We went over the entire skydive that we would be doing that afternoon a good number of times.  Getting to the door: Right hand on door, right foot in doorway, left hand on door,  left foot behind right foot.  To inside (main side) instructor "Check In!" and he nods. The outside (reserve side) instructor, "Check Out!" and he nods. Look forward and yell "Prop! Up! (while raising your knees and heels up so they can see since they can't hear you) Down! (putting knees and heels back down) "Arch!" as you step out the door of the airplane at 14,000 feet.  All of that should be in a sort of cadence so the instructors can time it to leave with you still holding on. After you are stable, then look at your altimeter and call out the altitude to your reserve side instructor and wait for thumbs up.  Same to main side. Also look for any hand signals for things you might need to fix. Then you do three practice pulls with your pilot chute, then do you altitude call out again. After that, you just watch altitude and for any hand signals to comply. At 6,000 feet, you "lock on to altimeter." Meaning: Watch it and don't look away. At 5,500 feet, you wave you hands above your head to let anyone around you know you are about to deploy your chute and then you throw your pilot chute out. When your chute is out and everything is good, you go to the "playground" and play with you canopy until you get to landing altitude and then you do your landing procedures and pattern while they talk to you on the radio. Simple enough, right?? As we were doing it in the mock up, it was easy. :)  After the mock drills, we went back to the classroom for the written test. 30 questions. All 4 of us scored a 100% on the tests. And so, all we had to do then was get manifested and wait for our load to be called.
  Two of the guys went up in Load 7 for the day and me and the other guy went up in load 8. After Load 7 came in, one of my instructors, Gary, came and found me. We went in the gear room and he showed me the gear checks to do prior to any jump and the first jump of the day. After all the checks were done, I put on the jumpsuit that has handles for the instructors to hold and then the rig. After all the gear was on, we went out to the mock up and did the practice jump a couple times so they were sure Nick taught me and I retained what he taught.  Then we got the call to load......
  I put on my helmet and we boarded the plane. Rock, paper scissors and we were going to be the last group out of the plane on that load. (That actually comes into play a bit later)  We take off and at 1,000 feet, we unbuckle our seatbelts and take off the helmet. At 5,500 feet, I give a practice wave off and pilot chute pull and we all check each other's altimeters to make sure they are close. At 10,000 we do another handle check (this is actually about the 4th or 5th one we've done since putting on the gear) and Gary goes over hands signals with me again along with the dive flow.  At 13,000 feet, Gary asks me, "Are you ready to skydive?" I say, "Yes Sir!!"  Although, at this point in time, my heart is starting to race again. It's not near as bad as the first time and it's not as bad as the second time, so each time is getting better, but there is a healthy fear/anticipation along with every jump. Close to 14,000 feet, the door opens and people start to empty out the airplane. It's now my time. I get to the door.. Rich climbs out the door and hangs on. Gary pats the door sill and that's my cue.  Right hand, right foot, left hand, left foot.  I'm standing in the doorway with my right shoulder under the top of the door and my head and left side outside the airplane.  I feel hands on both sides of my jumpsuit. "Check in!" The nod. "Check Out!" The nod. As I look forward at the prop, I take a deep breath to clear my mind.  "Prop! Up! Down! Arch!" and away we go.  It takes but a couple seconds to get stable and start my "circle of awareness" heading, altitude, reserve side, main side. As I call out my altitude, I get the signal to push my legs out. I do, but not enough. I call out to my main side and he also gives me the legs signal. I try it some more. But still not quite there. I do my three practice pulls and I get the legs signal again. I push out this time and can actually feel the difference and so I finally got it right. I was about to call out 8,000 feet to main side and as I look over, he's giving me the "Pull Now!" signal.  I had no idea what was wrong, but I'm not arguing, so I pulled.  By the time the chute opened, I was at about 7,000 feet. 1500 feet above my pull altitude and close to 2,500 feet above the altitude I should be at after opening. I looked up and the canopy was square, stable and steerable, so I was good. Except I was way the hell up there. I did my steering checks and then went over to close to where we were supposed to use as our "playground." Since I was so far up, I stayed a bit away from the playground and would work my way over there when I lost some altitude. I was a bit bummed at the "pull now" because I figured, somehow, I screwed up and he aborted the jump.  I played around with the canopy doing turns and flaring and slowly worked my way towards the playground. When they finally got on the radio with me, they wanted me closer to it, so they go me to come on over. I was still about 4000 feet up. They had me doing 90 degree turns and other stuff to bleed off some altitude. Finally, I was within landing pattern altitude and they started talking me in. I was still a bit high, so just like I was told not to do, I ran my downwind portion a bit long hoping to lose enough altitude to not run long in the landing area.  Well, I sure didn't run long. In fact, because of the headwind I had, I barely even made it to the landing area. And since I was so close to the edge, that is also where the big gas tank is they use to fill up the gas truck.  That thing was getting bigger by the minute and I was headed right to it. I put it a tiny bit of right and was able to go right beside it. I was so fixated on the gas pump, I didn't flare as much as I should have and butt scooted my landing. My chute fell and it covered the gas pump. That's how close I was.  But, I was down safe and I now I wanted to know what I did wrong.  Gary came over and helped get the chute off the gas pump and I asked why we pulled so high and if I did anything wrong. In turned out, Rich was watching our progress and because we were last of the airplane, we had run pretty far past the airport. He had us pull high so we all had enough altitude to make it back to the airport. They both even told me that, normally, when they give the "pull now" signal, most people question it and they were actually surprised when I pulled as quick as I did, so I got kudos for that.  Sweet!!
  So, my debrief went well. They told me what I need to work on. I need to have a better "cadence type count" in the door way for timing. I also need to work legs out. They also brought up the fact that ran my downwind long and not to do that again.  Other than those things, they were happy with my other tasks and cleared me for Level 2.  Whoo-hoo!!
1 down, 6 more to go.. I'll write about them here also.
Until next time...

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Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Skydive Part Deux

As I mentioned in my last post, we were slated to go skydiving again on 7 June. I had a group of 7 of us that decided to make the jump. 4 of us were repeats while three were first timers. A few of us met up and carpooled to the drop zone. The rest showed up at the DZ and everyone was there by the scheduled time.  We were split into 2 groups for the lifts, 4 in the first load and 3 in the next. Since we were split into two groups and three of us requested the same tandem master, I guess, since I was a repeat, they decided to let me jump with someone else. I had a deal with “JW” that he would let me use an altimeter and let me do everything there was to do to see if I was capable of doing it, so I was a bit bummed when they slated me with someone else. Remember, I was going to use this jump to see if I could overcome the pure fear that got me last time and to see if I actually had what it took to be able to get certified. He went and talked to “Drew,” my tandem master for this jump, and everything was cool. Drew got me an altimeter to use and he went through all the steps for me just as he would if I was an actual student.  We practiced the moves on the ground; how to hold my hands, how often to check the altimeter, how to grab the ripcord, etc., etc. Then we simulated hooking up and we did a dry run on the ground.  After that, we boarded and I noticed we were going to be the last guys off the plane where we were sitting.  On the way to altitude, we went over the steps and he gave me a couple ways to try to stay calm and keep the mind from racing, which did work, by the way. We kept checking altitude on our altimeters going up and once we got hooked up, we did our final check, the “skydiver handshake” and then the door opened. One by one, actually, two by two, we watched everyone plummet out the door on their 14,000 foot, 120 mph ride to Mother Earth.  Finally, it was our turn. We slid up the bench and got to the end of it where there was nothing between me and that open door. The last time, the fear was almost paralyzing. This time, there was anxiousness, but nothing more than a VERY nervous energy and anticipation running through me.  Although my stomach was turning, it was nothing compared to last time. We got to the door, I looked out at the horizon, took a breath to calm down even more and we were on our way.  The initial drop wasn’t as bad as I remembered it and we were stable under the drogue within seconds.  I got the tap to let go of my “happy handles” and assume the arch. I arched and immediately checked my altimeter.  When I checked, Drew then grabbed my arms and showed me what to do to turn in circles as we were falling. To be completely honest, I don’t remember which hand goes which way to turn which way, but it was a pretty badass feeling to control yourself like that. I checked altitude again. I also had no goggle issues this time. We do some more turns and I check again. Once I look down and see we are at about 6200 feet AGL, I stop looking around and focus on the altimeter as instructed. At 5500 feet, I wave my arms above my head like a Football Ref calling for time out. That lets everyone around you know you are about to pull the chute. After I wave, I reach back with my right hand, I put my left hand out in front of me (to counter act the hand going back) and pull the release for the chute. The chute opens and once we settle down, the first words from Drew’s mouth are, “Dude, you were awesome!! That was fuckin’ textbook!”  That made me feel great!!  He said every time he was about to tap me to remind me to check altitude, I was already doing it.  He gave me the toggles and let me steer towards the airport. At one point, we came into a cloud and he said, since you can’t see other canopies, you should spin down through a cloud, so that’s exactly what we did. My first skydiving IFR flight. It was very cool spinning down through the cloud.  Once we got closer to the airport, he took back over and brought us in for a nice smooth butt-scoot landing.  I was totally jazzed when we got on the ground!! I stared at what was/is one of my most primal phobias and took a major step towards conquering it. To really conquer it is to be able to jump out of that door with no one strapped to me or anyone holding onto me. I have 7 jumps I need to accomplish for that feat to happen.  I’ll write about each one of them.  My first is scheduled for Saturday, 5 July.
  On a side note: If you have ever wanted to try jumping out of a “perfectly good airplane” go do it!! With the chutes they have and the tandem systems, you have nothing to fear except fear itself.  Go see what it’s like to fall without feeling like you are falling and then the graceful glide of a parachute to a gentle landing in the grass. You may not ever do it again, but you will be able to say you did it at least once.  Then again, you may get bitten by the bug and want to learn to do it on your own like me.
Oh, and by the way, all 7 of my group were safe and sound that day and everyone had an AWESOME time!!!

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Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Skydiving...

Skydiving. Ever been? Ever wanted too? I actually have the tale of two jumps for you.

Flashback:  September 1982. I’m a freshman in college and I HATE Phys Ed courses.  I sign up for a tennis course the first quarter and promptly withdraw from it. Second quarter I notice that “Sport Parachuting” was listed. Sweet!! I can do that. So, I signed up and, I actually went to the classes. The ground school that normally takes about 5 hours at a Drop Zone (DZ), we did in 6 weeks. We learned to exit the airplane, how to land, how control the canopy (what control there was in the old military round chutes that we were jumping) and how to deal with malfunctions.  At the end of the class, you have two options. Take a written test on the info we discussed or go jump from a plane at 3000 feet. If you jump, you get an automatic “A” in the class. Hell yes.. I’m actually going to make an “A” in college!! February 1983, we meet up for our actual jump at a DZ in Locust Grove, GA.  We get a quick refresher ground school, don our jumpsuits and our rigs. This is going to be a static line jump. A 15 foot line is attached to the floor of the airplane while the other end is attached to your parachute container. You jump, you fall 15 feet, the static line opens your container and, WHAM,  your chute opens and then they talk you down on a radio that is attached to your harness. . Easy enough. And that is exactly how it happened, except for two minor details. As I stepped out of the plane, I pushed with the wrong foot and spun leaving the door. When my chute opened, I was still spinning and my lines twisted all up. They taught us how to correct it and I did what I needed to do to get them untangled. The opening was rough. It snatched me so hard, my feet flew above my head. But, I was good. Now, just talk me down and we’re good to go. Waiting for my instructions…  Still waiting... Ummm. Hello?  Anyone on this thing??  WTF??? Oh well, it looks like I’m going to have to do my best to get down in the general area without breaking anything or myself.  I actually did pretty good at staying the area and when I finally got down to an altitude where they could yell at me (my radio was on the wrong channel) I was headed right towards a small shack and they yelled, “FULL BRAKES!!”  I yanked on both toggles and fell like a rock from about 30 feet into the parking lot. I hit feet, ass, head onto that Georgia red clay parking lot. It was a hard hit, but I was fine except for a sprained ankle. And, I had my “A” in the class!! FYI: It was the only “A” I ever made in college.  I wanted to do it again, but never really got around to doing it after the ankle healed up.
  Fast forward to February 2014: We get a new guy in our shop and we find out he just happens to be a certified skydiving instructor that works at one of the local DZ’s. That got me remembering that day in ’83 and I decided I wanted to try it again. However the difference is, I was 18 back then, I’m 49 now with a couple of significant neck surgeries and a whole bunch of metal added to my repertoire.  But, after hearing more, there are some major differences in skydiving from then to now also. They have square, actual flyable, canopies and not those round things from before. Tandem jumps where you are strapped to a qualified instructor that takes care of everything, instead of static line and you do everything, along with hoping your radio is on the right channel. And MUCH smoother openings/landings than before.  Oh, and you jump from 14,000 feet versus 3,000. Oh yeah.. Let’s do this. I actually find a female in my shop that also wants to go, Tina, so we pick a date, sign up and show up at the DZ. The weather was really crappy and it never got any better, so our first day was a bust.  The weather was so iffy, neither of us even got nervous the entire time we were up there. We got a great tour of the place and enjoyed our time up there, but no jumping.  We made plans to go back up the following weekend on Sunday.  When we met up on Sunday, the sky was a clear and as blue as it could get. I knew it was going to happen that day. We went back to the DZ and got signed in. We go in for the ground briefing and when the instructor is explaining how it will go down, he mentions that we will go over to the door and “put your toes over the edge.”  Tina said she looked at me and my face lost all emotion. She said she only looked at me because she felt the exact same thing. It hit us at the same time: This shit is about to get real.  I’m going first, so I get in my harness and just hang out. We do a bit of videoing and photo taking and then we head to board.  During the flight, I’m not really nervous. We do some more video and we get everything hooked up and tightened up.  After we get to 14,000 feet, it’s time to start the jump run. The door goes up and the Army Silver Wings, that are riding with us, jump. Then a student with his two instructors all jump out. Then, there was no one between me and that open door. This shit just got real!! We scoot to the end of the bench and then stand up and shuffle over to the door. I “put my feet over the edge” and hold on to my “happy handles” and think, “WTF am I doing up here???” By then, it was too late, we tumble out the door and I give one big grunt, which is better than screaming in my opinion, and then he throws the pilot chute to slow us down a bit. We start our stable freefall and at this time, I’m starting to have fun. However, my goggles blew up a bit and now I’m having a rush of 145mph wind come in one side and proceed to beat up my left eye.  We had decided on the ground that he would show me his altimeter and when we got to deployment altitude (5500 feet) he would let me pull the chute if I wanted too. He kept putting the altimeter out, but I never got see it. We did a couple turns and if I wasn’t having my eye beat to a pulp, I would have really enjoyed it. Finally, when we got to 5500, he tapped me and I reached back for the ripcord. I wasn’t sure if the tap was to locate it or pull it, so I located and waited.  He finally tugged on my arm a bit and I knew to pull, so I pulled the chute. The opening was nothing like the ’83 opening. It was smooth  and before I realized it, we were now riding the canopy. He did a few maneuvers and then let me try it out a bit. Of course, I was very timid on the controls but did mess around with it a bit. After we got down to pattern altitude, he took back over and brought us in for a smooth butt-scoot landing.  It was an awesome time!!  However, my eye hurt so bad from the air beating it took, I couldn’t get overly excited about the ride.  Don’t get me wrong. I had a blast, but the pain just kept me from enjoying at that exact moment.  Tina took her ride next time and she had a blast too!! Totally different form 1983 and SO much better!!


  Now, I’m trying to decide if I want to get certified to skydive. I had a great time, but I was scared to death just before we jumped. Is it a natural feeling? Maybe, but I honestly have no idea. So, we are scheduled to do another jump, also tandem, this weekend. How that day goes will let me decide if I have it in me to continue on to training to become a skydiver. If I decide to do it, of course, I will write about it here. If not, I will write about jump #3 and move on. Stay tuned for updates…

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Death

Let’s face it, to those of us left behind, death fucking sucks. Whether you lose a loved one to an accident, disease, murder, or even old age, it just sucks. There is a hole left in your heart and in your life that will never be filled. Even focusing on the good times and the memories don’t fill the void left in your life.
The reason I’m on this is because yesterday, 18 Nov 2013, we buried the second family member in just a 2 month time span. On Sept 21, 2013, we buried my 46 year old sister, Leslie Lorenz. Leslie battled cancer for 11 long years. She was diagnosed with breast cancer (ductal carcinoma) at the age of 34 in 2002. The initial news devastated the family, but we all banded together and Leslie became the “rock” that held us all together. She got a lumpectomy and received radiation and chemo for the disease. She was clear for the next 4 years. In 2006, she was diagnosed a second time with breast cancer. They listed it as a “second primary site” and not anything that was missed the first time. This time, she elected for a double mastectomy and hysterectomy due to the chances of it returning. She also received genetic testing and tested positive for the BRAC1 gene mutation. BRAC1 is a mutation responsible for breast cancer in women and men and prostate cancer in men. Unfortunately, when she got the diagnosis the second time, it wasn’t as early as the first and there was lymph node involvement. The removed her lymph nodes and the received chemo for a second time. She was declared in remission for another 3 years after treatment. In 2010, she was suffering from excruciating headaches. She went in to get checked and after all was said and done, she was dealing with metastasized breast cancer that had found its way into her brain and into her bones. She was now battling brain cancer and bone cancer. She did treatments, she in part of clinical trials and she did her chemo and radiation. She seemed to doing pretty good, but she was never rid of the cancer and her Doc told her she probably never would be. After doing research, we found that the majority of people that are diagnosed with metastasized breast cancer in the brain last anywhere from 6-18 months. 36 months later, she seemed to be still doing strong. In July of 2013, she suffered a seizure and was hospitalized for a couple of days. After that seizure, she seemed, to me, to start a steady decline. She started being “less there” mentally more and more. I went away on a TDY for a week in September and when I came back on Friday, Heather had to brief me about what I would see when I walked in the house. Leslie was hardly there anymore. She would look at you and you could tell she would recognize you but that was about as far as it would go. There were no discussions. And, she was lying in a hospice bed. She slipped quickly after that. Saturday, there was very little anything. She would look around every so often, but that was about it. On Sunday, she was in a lot of pain and they tried to make her comfortable with morphine and meds. Nothing seemed to work. I went home that night not expecting to see my sister again. When I arrived back at her house the next morning, I was relieved to see that she was actually resting comfortably. No pain. Just lying there, motionless, breathing. We stood vigil over her for the next coming hours. Around 1 o’clock in the afternoon, I heard my mom start crying. My mom worked Hospice for over 5 years and she knew “the signs.” We all gathered around my sister and we knew the end was near. We grabbed a hand, touched a leg, and let her know we were all there. The next 5 minutes were the longest of my life. And, while we all knelt with her, she took her last breath. It was a VERY long 11 years. She never let her disease stop her from doing what she wanted or needed to do. But, even though we knew it was happening, the reality of it was, it still fucking sucked. She will forever be in our hearts and our minds. She left a void in the family that will never be filled. And we are going to struggle with her loss for a long time.
Forward ahead less than 2 months. 14 Nov, 2013. I get a text from my mom that she is headed to Macon because her Aunt, my Great Aunt’s house is on fire and they can’t get her out. We all get to the house and the fire is out, but the Coroner’s car is also at the house. She perished in the fire. And, after hearing stories, she didn’t die from smoke inhalation, she burned to death. Normally, losing an 88 year old isn’t the worst thing in the world. They lived a long life and this lady was an absolute Saint. She was very strong in her Beliefs, as was my sister. She was just an overall awesome, happy person. But, to go out like that? That is no way to leave this world. Especially after being such a good person to everyone else. So, we can’t even start to rebound back from my sister’s death and we get hit with a horrible death such as this one. We all went to the funeral yesterday. My sister’s funeral was one of “Life Celebration.” The service and music were very upbeat and everything she loved. My Great Aunt’s service was a typical, traditional Methodist church service and most of it was very sad with traditional Hymnal music. I’m not sure if it was really all that sad or we just hadn’t had time to get far enough behind Leslie’s so it hit us worse. I don’t know. All I know is it was not joyful being part of that and burying 2 family members in less than 2 months is some serious bullshit laid on this family.
Depending on what you believe or don’t believe, the dead are either in their eternal happy place and basking in all the joys that they have been taught and believed in their entire lives or they just don’t know or feel anything anymore. What I know is: Those of us that are left behind are trying to pick up the pieces and live with the void that those that go before us have left in our hearts and our lives. We are going to miss them each and every day we are without them and hopefully, maybe, one day we’ll actually see them again. I don’t want any type of religious debate on this post, so I won’t publish any comments that are headed that way. I use this blog to work through my issues by writing them down and I’m although I am interested in the thoughts of others, I’m not up for debate on the subject. Everyone has their own beliefs and I am one of “to each their own.” So, debates on this subject do nothing for me.
Until next time…

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Time Flies... Update

Ok, time for the update I’ve mentioned. Last time I wrote an actual update, it was June of 2010. I only wrote two more blogs after that dated to Sept 2010 and then I was silent here until last week. So, what has been going on since Sept 2010 until Sept 2013? 
First and foremost, my family: Ansley has seriously taken to learning and is doing so well is school. She started 2nd grade this year and is in the gifted program. She loves to read and just loves to learn in general. She is Daddy’s “Big Girl” and is just an awesome daughter! Riley is in pre-K and is also showing some uncanny smarts and memory for a little girl. My only question is if she is actually going to want to learn and will have the drive to learn like her big sister does. She is so much like me, I wonder about her. I always scored very high on the placement/IQ tests in school, I just didn’t care enough to even really try. So, time will tell about Riley. But, she is her Daddy’s “Baby Girl” and always will be. Heather has been awesome in her job and got into fitness a few years ago. She has lost all of her “baby weight” from 2006/2009 and is now even smaller than she was when we married in 2002. She has run multiple 5K’s, 2 half marathon and 1 full marathon. This year, she has a 24 mile “Trail Run” another full marathon in Savannah in November and then she has the “Crème de la Crème” in January 2014. She will be participating in the “Dopey Challenge” at Disney World. She will be running a 5K on Thursday, a 10K on Friday, a half marathon on Saturday and a full marathon on Sunday. That is just as much insane as it is awesome, in my book. On top of her running she also does countless hours of cardio and weight training along with making sure the rest of us eat as clean as possible. She has become a fitness role model to her co-workers and friends. In 2012, Heather and I also celebrated 10 years of marriage and 17 years together. The only other family member I ever mention with any real regularity is my sister, Leslie. I mentioned back in 2010 that she was diagnosed with metastasized breast cancer that had reached her brain. Well, as of today, 5 Sept 2013, she is still fighting it hard. We have seen some changes in her over the years, but she is still fighting right along with no signs of giving up anytime soon. To follow her story, please go here:
www.caringbridge.org/visit/leslielorenz
During this time, Heather and I also had our genetic testing done. I, like my sister, tested positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation. So, that will be something Heather and I will have to look at with our daughters when they get older. Heather tested negative for it.
 
  As for me, I have since retired from the Air Force. After my second neck surgery, the Air Force decided they had no use for me. They said I’d never be able to be an asset to the Air Force again, so they medically disqualified me for continued military service and forced me to retire after 17 years of service. To be completely honest, I was about tired of their shit and ready to leave anyway. Although I didn’t get to retire at the rank or with the time I was shooting for, I was glad to be gone from it. After they forced me out because of my physical limitations, I swore I would get in better shape than I was ever in while in that uniform. After seeing the results Heather had with her fitness, in August 2012, I decided to get on the fitness train. Heather had the “Insanity” program and she said if I would do it, she would start it with me. So, we started it together and did a couple weeks of it. She had to go TDY and while she was gone, I kept going and got hooked. Unfortunately, when I got to month 2 one of the routines, wrecked my knee. I kept going for a couple days and it got even worse and it swelled up about the size of a softball. So, I was ordered to take about 6 weeks off to let it heal. I wore a knee brace the rest of the time and let it heal up. I went back to it and was able to finish the 60 days of Insanity (by taking Max Plyo out of the rotation) After that, I went on to another program that included weights called Les Mill Pump. It didn’t have enough cardio for me, so I did a hybrid of Pump and Insanity for 2 1/2 months. After I completed that, Beachbody came out with a new program by Les Mills called “Combat.” It looked awesome and I got it the first day it was available. Instantly, I fell in love with that program. 60 days later, I had great results with that program. After Combat, I moved on through Body beast and then to Shaun T’s new program Focus T25 which I am just completed. Next up is a revisit to P90X. I tried this program back in 2009 and failed it miserably. It’s time to give it another shot and complete this program with awesome results! So, over the last 11 months, I’ve lost about 25 lbs and multiple inches around the waist, belly and legs while gaining some inches in the arms and chest. During all this fitness time, I also became a Beachbody coach so I could try and help others along their fitness journey. I have a great group of folks with me and we are all helping keep each other motivated. If you are interested in getting your fitness on, email me at “beachbody(at)wolfpack764.com” or go visit my Beachbody webpage at: www.beachbodycoach.com/dalehall .  I would love to help you reach your fitness goals. As for other hobbies, I still scuba dive as much as possible. We still do our yearly trip to swim with manatees in Crystal River, FL and we put together trips each year to head out for some good diving. I did finally get to do my shark dive in the Bahamas back in Sept 2012. That was a freakin’ blast!! I also still fly from time to time, but have not finished my license for that as of yet. Dad and I did take the girls to the airport just this past Monday. Ansley went up with Dad by herself for the first time. She had a good time. We also took Riley for the first time ever. She sat in my lap and she absolutely LOVED it! That little one is going to be my fulltime co-pilot, I believe.
 
So, that’s about it in a nutshell. Too much detail is boring to read, so I decided to just hit the highlights and this was still damn long. If you have any questions concerning fitness, my neck fusions, BRCA1 gene mutations, scuba, flight, or anything I’ve mentioned, please feel free to message me or leave a comment down below. I will get back you…
 
Until next time...

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Wednesday, September 04, 2013

DING!

A watched pot never boils. However, a watched microwave WILL ding. Just a thought for today.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Yum. Crow.

Those of you that know me, know I'm not one to fly off the handle, jump to conclusions, over react or...... Ok. I couldn't even type that with a straight face. Yeah, I am well known for doing all of the above and more, including the over-usage of the word fuck. Over the years, I have seriously mellowed compared to what I was like in my Active Duty days. Although they may be few and far between, I still have my times where I'll go a bit overboard in my enthusiasm, disappointment or anger. Some are warranted, some, not so much. In the times where it falls in the "not so much" category, I have to make things right. And that brings us to today...

A couple days ago I wrote about being passed over for a promotion and not being talked to by my bosses although I was the only person actually in the shop to apply for the job. (Others applied, I was just the only one actually already working in the shop) Well, today, my big boss called me in his office. He asked me if I got my "Dear John" letter from the website. I told him yes and then he explained to me how he made his decision and where I fell in the lineup. After that, he proceeded to tell me where I got beat out by the competition and what I could do to make things look more in my favor the next time this came around. All very valid points. Ummm. Ok, I was WAY wrong about how I perceived what they thought about us. Or, at least, what he thought about me. I took everything he said, made my notes and will do what I can to make things look better in the future. Not only that, after bitching about not getting spoken to last week, I made sure I thanked him, multiple times, for taking the time to speak with me and in pointing out my weak areas so I can work on them. After that was said and done, we had a staff meeting and my other boss mentioned the same thing to me and told me if I had any questions about anything, please come and hit him up and we could discuss. Big Boss already took care of that, but, again, I was very appreciative for them taking the time to address the matter with me.

Although I will bitch loudly about things, I will also take my lumps, apologize when necessary and eat a healthy portion of crow when I must. I wonder how easy it is to floss out these damn feathers???

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Sunday, September 01, 2013

Keep the Power

I'm going to write an update for the last few years pretty soon, but for now, I'm just getting used to writing again. Today, I had another revelation. It's one I've known and used in the past, but over the last few days, I haven't put it into practice. I got passed over for a promotion this past week. Being passed over isn't what bothers me. Ok, actually it does bother me, but knowing how our area works, I knew I wasn't going to get the job. They very rarely promote from within. They normally look to the outside for the promotions and that's something I've never understood. But, whatever the case, although I knew I was going to passed over, it didn't stop me from applying for the job anyway. The part that bugs the absolute fuck out of me about this, is the fact that neither of my two bosses talked to me about it. I got notified by having the application website send me an email telling me that "another applicant was selected for the position." Out of all of the resumes that hit the desk, I was the only person in the actual shop that applied for the job. Yet, I didn't get talked too. BUT, here is the revelation: Since I found out, I've been pissed, I've been sad, I've lost a few hours sleep getting worked up over it, I've been using up valuable brain time running scenarios through my head how to bring it up to them. (Knowing good and well I won't do it) I had given those guys the power over my mood. I finally realized today, that I was doing that. Heather has reminded me time and time again not give away my power and only use my thoughts for me, my family and things I can control. I can't control anyone making a decision like that. But, what I can control is not letting it ruin my mood, not letting it ruin my time with my family this weekend. You have the power in yourself to do anything. But, you have to make the conscious decision to retain your power and not give it away to anyone else. Especially other people you have no control over. Why would you let someone else control your mood??? From now on: You (and I) won't!! Until next time: Keep The Power!!

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Lost Shoe?


I'm going to resurrect my blog. I haven't had a whole lot of time to write over the past couple of years, but I'm going to try and make an effort to do at least one a week or so. A lot of things have changed since my last entry and I've got a lot to talk about, so we'll see how it goes.

To get things started, just when you think you've seen most everything, you get an email like this at work:

"There is a single black slip on shoe (Comfort Plus) in the stairwell outside the 2nd floor door above the ECP. If anyone is missing a shoe, that's where it is."

Umm. Just how does one lose a shoe and NOT notice it?