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It's May 21 and it is cold outside. Last night I saw a few flakes of snow fall.

My contribution here is gone. I regretted posting it about 3 minutes after it happened. I was too tired to deal with it the day it posted, and I'll be honest - I'm no less tired today. But I got it away and now the only people able to see that mess are the ones who visit my homenode. Consider this a public apology. I should know better. Mea culpa.

I felt for one thing it was overkill, and for another, I was breaking my own rule - the only time I really write about this place is in a daylog, and why should now be any different? And if you want to know the real truth, there are some days when I really, really hate this place. I get tired of all the bickering and the fuss and the politics and everything else, and some days I think to myself "One day they are actually going to pull the plug. How will it feel?" and the answer varies. It is easy to simultaneously love and hate a thing. This has nothing to do with individual people, it is more of a feeling towards the whole.

Maybe the answer is for me to walk away now. I have too much to deal with so why add one more thing? I am tired and I am broken, and at the moment there isn't a god damned thing I can do about it. (I have the sense to recognize that I will probably be here until the day the plug is pulled. This "come here/go away" feeling also varies.)

I'm going to see my family doctor on Thursday, I'm hoping he will approve me going back to work for short hours at first, letting me build back up to my full hours. I have a feeling he is going to say no, but I am going to try anyway. Because frankly I am completely frustrated and I just want to be able to get up and go and do things and not be so tired and hurt. Really what I want is to see a specialist, see someone who is actually capable of telling me what is wrong. A diagnosis means at least they'll know how to fix me. I don't know. It's sort of like a marathon runner, and one day they break their leg. They want to keep getting back up on their leg and they can't. But the doctors don't know what's wrong with their leg, so they just pump them with pain killers and tell them to sit the hell down. But who's going to race? They need to get up and run, dammit!

I don't really expect anybody to understand what is going on, because I barely understand it myself. I don't expect anybody to care. I'm not the type that likes to milk being sick, I leave that for other people. I am the type that goes to work sick anyway, that schedules six events in the same day, that juggles the lives of 3 other people in a household and still manages to eke out a little time for me. I try not to think about what is happening to me, because frankly it is a little frightening. I don't like going numb for no reason, I don't like having shooting pains in my legs and arms, feeling like my back is going to break. I don't like feeling off-balance, feeling mentally fuzzy. I don't like feeling exhausted. I have never felt this way before and I don't like it. Sadly enough I'd rather go back to just having migraines, at least I could deal with it and carry on.

I think that's enough for now.

I bought a new hang glider today! It's used actually, but in really great shape. This is the first glider I've bought since 1993, but I've worked for the manufacturer (Wills Wing) since 1995 making parts, building gliders, running their website, and test flying production gliders (and the occasional prototype). I've flown over 1500 brand new gliders of various types and sizes, so I haven't been deprived, exactly. Most of those flights were a half hour or less on days where four or five of us go up to launch, set up and inspect wings, make sure they fly right, pack 'em up in the LZ, and then go up the hill again, anywhere from 3 to 7 times in a day. Quite different from flights on my own where I stay up for an hour or two or more, on my own schedule. When I worked at the factory (I just run the website and test fly now) I brought home a glider or two most weekends to test fly, so I generally had longer flights, but still, each wing was going to be somebody's new baby so I didn't push the envelope with them, usually.

I bought a single-surface wing when I learned to fly in 1985, a used Lite Dream 185. In 1990 I finally moved up to a used Moyes GTR 175, a double-surface hottie - 'GTR' was for 'Glass Tip Racer', because the wingtips were flexible fiberglass tubes. I wore the GTR out and bought a barely used Wills Wing HP AT 158 (the numbers are square feet of wing; notice the wings get smaller as performance increases?) in 1993, a glider that had been flown by a factory sponsored pilot in a couple of competitions. When I started working for Wills Wing, there was no real need for me to buy a glider, and I still had the Dream and the GTR to fly in a pinch. My first Falcon 225 was a used 'demo' glider that Wills Wing generously gave me after I set up their initial website in 1996 (I had to sell them on this new 'World Wide Web' thing first) and that I chose specifically to take people for tandem flights with. My second Falcon 225 was the only brand-spanking-new glider I've ever owned, and they gave me that in trade for my low-airtime 225 when a very busy tandem pilot wrecked HIS 225 in the week before Labor Day weekend (lots of tandems scheduled) and they had no 225s in stock that he could buy. He came from Nevada and got my glider and they built me a new one a few weeks later.

So I've been flying my Falcon 225 (single-surface, low performance, easy) for most of my fun flying for the past year, and while it's so light and easy that it's very relaxing to fly, there are days when I'd like to have more performance so I could venture farther up or down the ridges or zoom around a little more. Cash flow hasn't been such that I can really justify dropping thousands of dollars on another wing when I've got a perfectly fine wing already (that I couldn't get much for on the resale market). There have been a couple of gliders for sale in the area in the last few months that tempted me, vaguely, but the prices were kind of high and I knew they'd seen a lot of airtime, which equals UV exposure, which is what limits wing life - the fabric of the sail starts to break down after 400-600 hours of UV. Getting a new sail for an out-of-production glider is not an option because things change too much, too quickly. Then a confluence of events occurred, and I carpe'd the diem.

I also run the website for our hang gliding club, which includes a mountain-top weather station I started back in 2000, when I lived up there, and the station's been down for the last 3.5 months due to storm damage. SoCal pilots can get a very clear idea of conditions before making the drive out to fly, and most of the pilots live more than 30 miles away. I'd worked on it a few times when the weather wasn't nasty, but was getting nowhere. Going up the mountain to work on it wears on me more than physically, but that's another story. The folks whose home it's at now are quite nice and accomodating. I thought there were bad connections in the cables because I'd temporarily slapped in an old anemometer and it still hadn't worked. Turns out a brand new anemometer did the trick (two anemometers on the scrap heap). I installed that Monday and it went like clockwork. I felt a great weight lifted off my shoulders - I hadn't realized how deeply not having it working had been affecting me. We had a test fly day on Tuesday, and good thing, because it kept me from checking the weather graph all day, just because I could again. It was a good day of test flying and I flew some racing wings.

In the morning on Tuesday I'd emailed a fellow pilot requesting payment for some website work I'd done for him over a month ago. When I got home that night I saw that he'd renewed his ad on the club website offering his lightly used UltraSport 166 (double-surface, mid to high performance, my size) for sale, which I'd forgotten about (originally posted last February). He'd lowered the price, and after about five minutes thought I called him up and offered him several hundred dollars plus the cost of the work I'd done and he said "Heck yeah!"

That guy also has a Falcon 225, which he started flying with, and he bought this one used, thinking he wanted higher performance. He found he really prefers the Falcon, as he's mostly a casual pilot. I applaud such a sensible outlook. I know the guy who had the UltraSport before him - he flew it regularly but bought a newer model a few years ago. The original owner was totally gung ho and this was his second glider; he flew it for a few months (banging it up slightly) before 'moving up' to a high performance blade wing. He doesn't fly anymore, which is the norm in that scenario. The coolest thing, which I had forgotten until I got it home and set it up for a good inspection, was that I did the original test flight of this wing, October 9, 2002! My initials are still scratched into the placard. That's an additional comfort because I know that the keel, a major piece of frame tubing to which the placard is affixed, hasn't been replaced. Keels don't often need replacing, but when they do the glider has usually taken a severe impact with something. My flight log shows that the glider flew well and needed no adjustments. It's even possible I built the thing, I'll have to check the shop's records.

UltraSports were my favorite glider to test fly when they were in production, especially the 166 (the largest) since I'm a big guy and they let me float when the lift is light but tighten up and go fast when there's a need to get from A to B quickly and efficiently. I actually was the one who suggested the name 'UltraSport' when we were flying the protos, in late 1996. It was the successor to the SuperSport, which had come after the Sport, both very popular 'intermediate' gliders. I thought the name would clearly establish where the model fit in the company's model line and that they could put a big "US" on the bottom surface, since the high performance wing we were making at the time had an 'XC' on the bottom, for 'Cross Country'. We could possibly get a little patriotic sales boost; the chief competitors were an Australian company and, at the time, much smaller Italian and French manufacturers (both now basically kaput). A lesson learned from the naming, by the way, was that many pilots assumed it was just an update of the Sport, when in fact it was a very different airfoil with very different cabling and hardware. The UltraSport was targeted at the same market segment as the Sport and SuperSport, but the glider's qualities were quite different. It took a while to get that through to the pilots.

This particular glider, in fact, is red and blue with a white 'US' logo; my Falcon is mostly white with red and blue leading edge panels. So I've inadvertantly got a theme going. It felt great to set it up in the backyard today, and everything checked out. It has an estimated 100 hours of airtime on it and has been kept very clean and well cared for. Some nicks in the fabric, a grass stain or two, but it's a creampuff. I gave it some TLC and got reacquainted with the hardware and cabling details. I made a lot of cable assemblies and other parts for UltraSports, and built a fair number from parts into finished gliders, so it's very nostalgic for me. There were a couple of small parts that were tweaked (corrected, no big deal) and I got the minor bend out of the basetube (which you steer with while flying) pretty easily. I let it sun for an hour to dry after rinsing some areas, then packed it up and put it in the bag. All the while I felt this contentment mixed with anticipation and even a little pride - those kinds of feelings are not the status quo for this generally alienated underachiever.

Then it was time to modify my in-garage glider storage to handle two gliders, but if I start describing the pulleys and ropes and padded two-by-fours this will go on even longer, so suffice it to say I had a satisfying few hours in the garage on this post-heat-wave cool spring day as well.

Maybe this is just my micro-budget version of working out a midlife crisis, but right now I'm looking forward to my next flying day the way I've heard people look forward to 'hot dates'. I now realize that for the last few years flying has been as much about the escape to the cooling solitude where the white noise of wind rush masks the inner chatter and the outer silence, where the required concentration keeps the mind out of well-worn ruts, at least for a while, as it has been about the joy of flight, the challenge of working the invisible currents, and yes, the camaraderie on the ground, before and after flying. This positive development is because of something I fixed, something else I worked on, and something I decided because it felt right as the idea arose, without worrying about justification. I hope this is the start of a trend.

Today's words are incipit, mythomane and raptus.

A girl on my train west this morning was wearing a skirt made out of old newspaper print. Sometimes I feel like everything is made out of words. Other times I feel like words inevitably, spectacularly miss the point.

Today's breakfast was quarter of a bag of beansprouts, some spicy crushed chick peas and three hours of argumentation on the topic of commitment, freedom, dignity and expectation. I might take an early lunch.

I really didn't get enough sleep last night. Maybe that's obvious? I still feel more alert than I was yesterday, though, when my head was made out of glue.

'Today, I feel older than I've ever felt in my life. That's not surprising really; I am.' Now that's what I call a song.

As I passed back through Glasgow I heard a man singing Wish You Were Here very loudly, in tune. I couldn't see him at first but when I rounded the corner there he was, right in the middle of the street, bathed in blue light. As I passed a middle-aged man joined in on a penny-whistle, and I couldn't decide if he was out of tune or just avant garde.

Today I got a bonus train ticket along with my normal ones. It's blank apart from the word VOID printed across it in large type. It's good to know I've got a ticket for there if I ever need it. I'll make sure to keep it somewhere safe.

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