Thursday, November 28, 2013

50 Things

I've been feeling a bit crappy and missing family knowing that my favorite holiday is today and it isn't even celebrated here.  But, just because Aussies don't celebrate, doesn't mean I can't.  Rather than feel sorry for myself, I went for a walk and tried to come up with 50 things I'm thankful for - was pretty darn easy.

1 - That my default state of mind is happy.
2 - I have a gorgeous, happy, healthy and incredibly smart baby girl.
3 - My brothers made me tough and taught me to take (good-natured) abuse like a pro.
4 - I inherited my mother's ability to empathise with just about anyone, even the most unlikable people.
5 - My arms and legs are so long that launching and landing a hang glider is easier than it is for most girls.
6 - I have two loving parents who gave me every opportunity in life.
7 - Glen.
8 - I can work from nearly any place on the planet and don't have to sit in an office all day like most people in my profession.
9 - I have all my body parts and they are all in great working order still.
10 - There are very few material possessions I want that I don't have (or can't just go out and buy).
11 - I like to exercise - (if not for that one, I would be fat).
12 - I can whistle really well.
13 - Music brings me great joy.
14 - I tan really easily and rarely burn.
15 - The migraines I used to suffer regularly, have all but gone away.
16 - I no longer look like a 12 year old boy.
17 - I am very tolerant and forgiving.
18 - My only real vice (sugar) isn't too terribly unhealthy.
19 - My little condo on the beach.
20 - I can reach things on the top shelf for little ladies at the supermarket.
21 - Making a living doesn't consume all of my time - not even most of it.
22 - I have a beautiful sister who writes a birthday song for me every year.
23 - My friends are all over the planet and there's always one to meet up with most any place I travel.
24 - Anger doesn't stay with me very long - probably not as long as it should sometimes.
25 - I get year-round summer most years.
26 - I was born in America.
27 - I don't always act like an American.
28 - My fish face always entertains small children.
29 - My kidneys still function.
30 - Somehow I became quite independent.
31 - My family loves me even though I'm not around as much as I ought to be.
32 - I backed up my computer 2 hours before the hard drive crashed yesterday.
33 - I can speak a bit of Spanish with a pretty decent Mexican accent.
34 - I've never broken or seriously hurt myself hang gliding.
35 - For some strange reason, I love to wash dishes, and do housework in general.
36 - I only remember the good stuff.
37 - I can change, when change is required.
38 - My new glider flies beautifully, and perfectly straight.
39 - I have the most common blood type.
40 - I get to plan two giant hang gliding parties every year and all my friends come to join in the fun.
41 - My lung capacity is quite large.
42 - I'm good at launching a hang glider.
43 - I had a 7th grade history teacher that got me interested in travel by reading great adventure stories to the class every day.
44 - I have two homes.
45 - My resting heart rate is extremely low.
46 - I get upgraded most of the time when I fly.
47 - I can fall asleep almost instantly and can sleep pretty much anywhere.
48 - I've been able to spent all but one summer in Europe for the past 10 years.
49 - Most of the time, I'm right where I want to be.
50 - I don't mind being flawed.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Love American Style

"....truer than the red, white and blue - u - u - u...."

Most mornings I wake up with song in my head. Sometimes it's just a melody, sometimes is an ad jingle or a song I don't even really know.  Today it was a 70's TV show theme song.  I remembered all of the lyrics too.  The show aired from the time I was two years old until I was seven.  

What kind of sick trick does my brain play on me that I can remember song lyrics from a childhood TV show (not even a kids show that I watched regularly!), but I can't remember in the 10 steps it takes me to get there, what I was going to do in the kitchen?

Funny thing is that I recently got an account at It's a highly promoted website with prime time television ads that claim to offer neuroscientist-created games that are meant to improve your brain health and performance. My brother called me a "sucker" for getting an account and, to be honest, I don't have any idea if my brain performance has or will or is even capable of increasing.  But, the games are actually very fun and I suppose I see it as cheap entertainment, if nothing else. Right now, it's replacing my usual Sudoku games. 

So the really funny thing is that according to Lumosity, I am in the 95th percentile for memory. Unfortunately, that's the 95th percentile for my age group, which doesn't say all that much to me.  It doesn't give my ranking among all age groups.  After a month of "brain training" I'm still finding myself in a room trying to remember what I came there for :-(. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Rainbow Beach Fun

My flying world has been rocked!  Yeah, seriously!  Last Saturday we arrived in Rainbow Beach along the Sunshine Coast of Australia and we've flown all day, every day since.  Over the past 5 days I may have had more take offs and landings than the last 5 years combined - between 15 and 25 every day!

Funny thing is, it all makes me think of Wolfi Siess.  The first time I met Wolfi was at the French Nationals in Laragne in maybe 2003 or 2004.  Wolfi and a couple of other younger Austrian pilots were being mentored by Gerolf.  I was taking heaps of pictures all week and toward the end of the week I started to notice that all the pictures of Wolfi were especially funny.  Most were landing shots and not a single one showed Wolfi without a gigantic grin on his face - like he was up to something.  I always laughed about it, but I asked him not so long ago if he remembered that.  He said "sure, landing is the most fun part of flying!"  I thought to myself, "cool for him, I wish I felt that way."

For me landing has never been fun.  It's only a necessary chore.  I've never considered landing fun or even just ok.  Landing is almost always at least a little bit scary and often a lot scary.  I have a list that goes out the door and around the corner of reasons to land - I'm scared, I have to pee, I'm tired, I'm scared, there are no more good landing places ahead, I'm scared, I can't find anymore lift, I'm afraid to cross over the mountain range, I'm scared, etc., etc. - I could go on all day.  But never once has that list included "for fun!"....that is until now ;-).

At Rainbow Beach there's a giant sandblow created by nature especially for hang gliding I'm sure. Here's a shot of the sand blow from my iPhone.  Not the best, but you can see what I'm talking about.

Because it's nice rounded bowl and the coastal air is beautifully smooth, it's a place like no other where you can take off and land all day long in the most perfect conditions you could ever imagine.  It's pretty much impossible to screw it up.  If you come in too high, you just make another go around...too low and you turn back a bit sooner and land up closer to the edge.  I've never, ever had such a fun time landing....every single one is thoroughly enjoyable and brings a giant Wolfi-style smile to my face. Although I haven't yet tired of the touch and goes, for a little break, we ventured down the coastline about 15km to the south end of the little bay checking out the stingrays and sea turtles playing in the surf all the way there and back.  

With the 4:30ish sunrise, we've found other ways to entertain ourselves until the wind comes in - normally by 10 or 11am.  

But mostly we just played on the sand blow all day long....practicing fly-bys, spot landings, teaching a bit and general fooling around. 

I'm pretty sure I never want to leave!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

On the road again

So good to be back home with my baby....and what better way to kick off the summer than with a road trip up the east coast!  Glen picked me up at the Sydney airport about 8am on Thursday morning and we were straight on the road heading north toward our final destination at Rainbow Beach.  

Of course, you can't drive by the Big Banana without making a quick stop.

Since it was on Lennox Head we gave the new Freedom tandem glider a little test flight as we passed through town. Great little ridge on the beach, but the top landing field leaves a bit to be desired.  Luckily Glen's a pro ;-).

The 30km drive on the beach from Noosa to Double Island point was the coolest by far though.  More traffic than I would have expected on the beach, but the tide was low and there was plenty of roadway. We finished up the beach drive with another 10 or 15km of rainforest sand track.  What a gorgeous drive!

Next stop, Rainbow Beach!!