For Science!

Today, for the first time in my life, I participated in a demonstration.

The same could be said for many of today’s demonstrators.

There isn’t much that can compel me to march down the street in a sea of people. Except science. And facts. And data.

Data is being deleted, facts are under attack, and research is being defunded. By our government. What the hell is going on?

So I marched. I marched for facts. I marched for science. I marched for data. I marched because “Every time Trump signs an executive order, an activist is born.”

Science not silence. We must fight this. We must resist.

But not before taking a break from the crowds after the march before returning to the rally. I am an introvert, after all.

OMG THIS IS SO AWESOOMMME!!!

Wednesday night:

Like this Friday? Okay! Carpe diem! Caren’s words. Agree!

My teammates at work totally understood my “Surprise, I’m out Friday!” the next morning when I explained it was to go jump out of a plane. Super legitimate reason to last minute bail on work, ya?

Friday: Got to Skydive California at noon. We were given some waivers to sign and shown a cult video about the dangers of skydiving.

I kid. That guy is Bill Booth, and he’s done a ton for skydiving. He’s also way less cult creepy in his other videos.

The skydiving center was a bit backed up from earlier in the day, so we went to Starbucks, came back, and watched a few loads drop. It was neat watching people’s landing techniques. I particularly liked how one of the camera guys would come buzzing in at full speed. Just like flying.

Around 3:30, we suited up. They did a quick turnaround load right before us, so we hung out in the prep area and watched our chutes get packed. Fascinating!

At 4, we headed for the plane.

Caren & Me Pre-Jump

That’s Caren’s tandem instructor in the back. I think he likes what he does, ya?

Got on the plane. More accurately, hopped in the prop! My second ever propeller plane. It seemed beefy compared to the Piper I flew in a year ago. I’m glad I had the Piper experience under my belt; one new thing at a time!

Some final instruction before the jump, paraphrased:

“If you can’t breathe, scream! Your lungs will figure it out.”
“If everything goes dark, open your eyes.”

Caren got to go first so my camera guy could capture her jump. “Bye Caren!” I yelled as she approached the door. “Bye!” And off she went!

My turn! I smiled for the camera and off we went! Whoa! Falling feeling! Sky! Ground! Sky! So windy! Ahhhhh!!

The video shows about a minute of freefall with a drogue. I spend most of that time yelling, “OMG WHAT IS HAPPENING THIS IS SO AWESOOMMME!!!” over and over. I noticed how I might find it hard to breathe if I wasn’t yelling at the top of my lungs. But I was, so no bigs.

OMG THIS IS SO AWESOOMMME!!!

My instructor gave the videographer a high five, saluted goodbye, then pulled the chute. Instant calm. Then he handed me the controls. Arms up. “This is fast.” Arms bent. “This is half brake.” Arms down. “This is full brake.” Full brake was amazing floatey peace. Then he showed me how to turn. Left arm up, right arm down to turn right. Right arm up, left arm down to turn left. We turned one way, then the other. HARD! It felt like one of those spinning chair swing rides at the carnival except way faster and way higher.

Chute flying, totally different from free-fall. My stomach did not like it at all! I felt nauseated for the next hour. Nauseated and adrenaline shakey all at the same time.

Everyone at Skydive California was super nice and they gave us free repeat jump certificates for the long wait. Would I go back? I think so! Experiencing this for the first time was amazing, but I think doing it again would allow me to experience it differently.

I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time now. Thanks Caren for finally making it happen!

Dandy

Swung onto Grant Ave. this evening on our way to dinner. Chinatown! My people! Look around and saw… no Chinese people. A lot of tourists, and finally a single old Chinese guy playing an erhu. He was doing it for street donations, but at least he was a Chinese guy playing a Chinese instrument. Then I tuned in to what he was playing.

Yankee Doodle.

Parkour

I was going to say that it was about time I had a post in this blog titled “Parkour”, but it looks like I already do.

Wow, that post was 10 years ago. Now that I’ve learned* how to mountain bike, I can finally take up parkour.

It all started with a tweet:

The ensuing conversation led me to Athletic Playground this morning for a Parkour class. I loved the space, the people, the always-a-forgiving-landing-unless-you-really-screw-up equipment.

We warmed up, then learned how to do rolls and reverse vaults, followed by a mini circuit of obstacles.

I’d never done a roll before. Learning to do one was kind of an epiphany.

I had a ton of fun, learned a bunch, and got a great workout. Pretty sure I’ll be sore tomorrow (Monday). The mark of a successful weekend.

* Learning and mastering are two different things. Just like hockey, mountain biking continues to be a work in progress. It’s the room for improvement that makes it interesting.

Death Cough 2.0

Well this is interesting. I was on my way to recovery, then managed to catch a cold on top of my cold.

Current symptoms:

  • Blowing my nose causes me to uncontrollably surprise cough.
  • Coughing causes me to uncontrollably surprise sneeze.
  • Sneezing results in a need to blow my nose.

Multiculturalism FTW!

If you’ve ever wondered how to make a Tibetan singing bowl sing, or what the Most Awesomest Ugly Christmas Sweater Evars looks like, have I got a video for you!

Yes, I got a Tibetan singing bowl for Christmas. The cultural juxtaposition pleases me greatly. Thank you Steve and Candi!

This bowl gets LOUD! Louder than in the video.

Bonus: Where’s Waldo? Christmas Narwhal Edition. Find the narwhal on my dinosaur sweater.

Underdog

The underdog won tonight.

One of the most consistently dominant athletes in MMA got dominated.

Holly Holm prepared meticulously and executed flawlessly. It was obvious in her performance and in her post-fight remarks. This was no fluke. She earned this victory. It was beautiful to watch.

I had fully expected Rousey to be the dominant one. I tuned in to watch her dominate. Because I like that kind of stuff.

I got what I wanted out of the fight. But wow, what a surprise.

Unrelated to dominance, huge props to Holly for how she carried herself both before and after the fight. Much respect for her willingness to admit that she doubted herself at times in her training, and had to force herself to work on the things that were hard until she got them right.

Unimpressed with Ronda not touching gloves before the fight.

My takeaways from this: No one is invincible. Don’t let success get to your head. Work hard. Work on what’s hard. Work until it’s easy, then find something else hard to work on.

To indulge in a moment of armchair coaching, one more takeaway: Don’t surround yourself with people who tell you you’re doing “beautiful work” when in actuality you’re getting your ass handed to you.

Dominance

“I always root for the underdog.” I hear that a lot.

I don’t, so sometimes I ask why. Usually the answer is something along the lines of wanting the little guy to succeed.

But why? Has the little guy earned it?

When it comes to sports, I don’t often pick a side, as the success of one athlete or team over another has no bearing on my life.

That doesn’t mean I’m not a fan of sports in general. I love watching professional sports. Those athletes are amazing.

You know what I love watching even more? Dominance.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to watch an AYSO beatdown or rec league ringer talent show. I understand that in life not everyone has the same opportunities, and in those circumstances I will often root for the little guy who’s working his ass off. But I’m not talking about everyday life. I’m talking about professional sports, where the best of the best compete.

If I’m going to spend my time watching professionals, I want to watch them execute. Perfectly. Because they can. Because they’ve put in the work, practice, sweat, pain, perseverance, and time. Because they’ve done it and tweaked it and done it over and over again until it’s a reflex. Until they’re dominant.

Consistently dominant.

It takes a lot more to be consistently dominant than to win by chance.

That’s why I don’t root for the underdog. I like to see hard work pay off.

I started this post right after the Rousey/Correia fight. It took me almost a month to finish, but well, I’ve been busy. Busy working hard.

Piper

Because I am a lucky duck, I got to go flying in a Piper last week. My first small plane experience!

I met my coworker’s Dad at Palo Alto airport. The plan was to fly across the bay to pick up two of my coworkers (one of them his daughter) at Hayward airport.

I watched him go through all the preflight checks. I didn’t want to interrupt so I just kept my mouth shut and tried to remember everything. Then we got in the plane. Controls and gauges galore! He said I could ask any questions I wanted, but I didn’t want to be distracting or talk over air traffic communications so I continued to keep my mouth shut and tried to remember some more.

Taxi. Get in line. Rev the engine. Our turn. Here we go!

It’s amazing how little speed it takes to get a plane off the ground. I could feel us gliding through the air as we climbed. Kind of trippy. Crazy cool.

A lever here, a knob there. Punching in numbers (air traffic frequencies). Punching in more numbers (transponder code).

Neighborhoods. Infrastructure. Trails.

Lots of tennis courts.

A few minutes later, Hayward. We did two landings, the first for licensing currency. Picked up my coworkers and we were off again. Same drill.

Spotted some REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT tags on planes at the airport. That’s the first time I’ve seen them used for their intended purpose.

We flew north up the East Bay. I picked out my old apartment in Berkeley as well as the lab I worked in. Then we headed west over Angel Island and swung north again to head toward Mount Tamalpais. At this point I remembered that I’d forgotten to turn on my GPS to track the flight. Oh well.

When we reached Tamalpais we turned left toward the mountain to swing south. It was pretty amazing to look straight out the window and see the mountain level with the plane.

We got permission to fly through SFO airspace, so we headed back to Palo Alto straight down the Peninsula. Saw an A380 taxiing at SFO. It made the adjacent 737s and A320s look like toys.

Lots of helicopters along 101. Traffic reporters?

Hung a left over Moffett Field and then we were back on the ground in Palo Alto. That was so cool! I asked tons of questions at dinner about all the controls. I wanted to know what each dial and lever did and how that affected the plane. I learned about airspaces (they’re shaped like inverted wedding cakes) and air traffic communications and fit this into everything I’d heard over the course of the flight.

This flight demystified a lot about my understanding of basic plane function and air traffic procedures. I am so thrilled and grateful to have experienced it.

I was super tired when I got home and fell asleep a couple hours before my usual bedtime. I think my brain was overwhelmed by everything it had just taken in. I haven’t observed and learned that intensely since I was a kid.

Maybe that’s why kids sleep so much.