Archive for the 'Sports' category

5-way formation skydive!

Jul 25 2010 Published by under Sports

It occurred to me, after some discussion on Twitter, that I haven't posted any skydiving videos for a while!  Part of the problem is that I haven't had that many videos taken over the past half-year; the other part of the problem is that I often get video copies in DVD format, which requires me to first transfer the video to an uploadable format -- no trivial feat on my system.

The following video is a 5-way (5-person) formation skydive I did in March of this year with my friends Mickey, Robyn, Mike, and Peanut.  Video was graciously taken by my friend Larry:

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A new paper airplane world record!

Dec 28 2009 Published by under Science news, Sports

Via The Huffington Post, I found this story pretty exciting: a Japanese man has made a new world record for the longest duration flight of a paper airplane!

Only one man – Japanese paper airplane virtuoso Takuo Toda – has ever come close to breaking the 30-second barrier. On Sunday, he set a world record for a hand-launched plane made with only paper, but fell just short of the 30-second mark.

Toda, flying a 10-centimeter-long craft of his own design, made 10 attempts to break his own record of 27.9 seconds set earlier this year in Hiroshima but failed to best his previous mark, settling for a 26.1-second flight.

That was still the best ever recorded for a strictly paper-only craft. His 27.9 record was set with a plane that had tape on it.

A lot of engineering can go into paper airplane design, and there are a lot of different styles of airplane with a lot of different flight characteristics.  When I was a kid, I had a number of books with both simple and remarkably complicated designs, many of which I can still put together.  Congratulations to Takuo Toda!

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On passing adult bronze 'moves in the field'

Sep 01 2009 Published by under Personal, Sports

Whew!  One more stressful deadline is passed, and successfully!  On Sunday, I passed my adult bronze 'moves in the field' figure skating test!  Of course, most readers probably have no idea what that means.

The USFSA (U.S. Figure Skating Association) is the official organization for U.S. figure skating, and they administer ranking tests which can be used as personal achievement goals or to determine one's level for competition.  I've been figure skating for some thirteen years, and haven't bothered with testing for about ten years.  This year, though, my skating coach convinced me (i.e. bullied me!) into testing again.

Apparently I don't have enough going on, with classes, tenure planning, book writing, blog writing, research, and house stuff!

I decided to follow the "adult track" of testing, which is more compressed and less rigorous than the standard track that the young kids do.  The adult track consists of pre-bronze, bronze, silver and gold levels.  I was grandfathered into the pre-bronze level from my previous tests, and therefore took the bronze test.

"Moves in the field" refers to skating elements such as various turns and edge transfers, basically all those techniques that can be used to get from point A to point B.  To give you an idea of what is involved, here is the official test book figure of the "5-step mohawk" pattern I had to perform:


To give you a sense of the terminology, RFI = right front inside, MO = mohawk,  LBO = left back outside, etc.

Fortunately, I passed the test, and even enjoyed the experience somewhat, though I strangely find such tests more stressful than skydiving.  Now I'll hopefully have the mental capacity to get my tenure package out of the way later this week...

In a completely unrelated note, I started playing the XBox360 game Batman: Arkham Asylum this weekend.  The game is really, really good; I'll probably review it in its entirety once I finish it.  I've you've ever wanted to be Batman, this game is the closest you'll probably ever come!

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Skating a rollercoaster?

Jul 23 2009 Published by under Sports

I know people will call me nuts, but this looks like fun: via The Daily Mail, we learn that an extreme sports enthusiast took a high-speed ride on a rollercoaster -- on specially designed roller skates!

An adrenaline junkie has taken in-line skating to new heights and set a new world record after racing down a roller coaster at speeds of 56mph.

Dirk Auer decided to go where no sane man or woman had gone before and skated down an 860 metre track in just over a minute.

Wearing specially designed in-line skates, the German made the attempt on the Mammoth roller coaster at the Trips Drill theme park in Stuttgart.

There's several photos accompanying the feat, including this one:

From a physics point of view, this is sort of interesting.  On the one hand, it's probably easier to skate a coaster than it looks, because the banked turns of the coaster are designed to keep the forces a rider experiences pointing down into the track, meaning that one would expect that forces tugging from side to side are not too bad.  On the other hand, I get the impression that Auer was traversing the coaster faster than a normal car would, which means that the banked turns would not compensate as well for his motion.

I predict that I won't have to wait too long to try such a thing: I'm guessing some enterprising theme park manager will design a ride similar to Auer's feat, though probably not one going quite so fast...

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900th skydive milestone!

Jul 12 2009 Published by under Personal, Sports

Just a short note: yesterday I made three skydives, the third of which was my 900th!

Up until the 1000th jump, skydivers tend to treat every 100th jump as a personal milestone.  Due to work, I've been jumping quite irregularly, and it's taken me two years to get from 800 to 900, but I finally made it!

There isn't usually any "formal" celebration associated with a 100 jump milestone.  Sometimes, the jumper is rewarded with an ambush of whipped cream pies to the face.  Fortunately, nobody thought to congratulate me in that manner (though I'm also simultaneously a little disappointed).

I didn't get video for the 900th: all the videographers I knew were busy doing tandem skydives.  I don't feel particularly sorry, though, because typically my 100 jump milestones have been "zoo" jumps where confusion reigned and nothing got done (except a lot of fun)!  I actually told everyone on the plane ride up: "Just relax and have fun, and don't worry about screwing up my 900th jump, because my 800th and 700th were disasters and I still enjoyed them."  And I wasn't wrong -- chaos reigned on the 900th, and it was still fun!

Now I get to work towards my 1000th jump.  I'll definitely get some sort of video for that occasion!

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Back in the air!

Apr 20 2009 Published by under Sports

The weather has finally been getting nice enough again to get some consistent skydiving in and not freeze one's ass off at the same time!  The following video is actually back from January, but I finally got around to uploading it the other day.  It consists of two skydives: an eight way and a six way.  Both jumps look a little confused, as we hadn't really gotten much jumping in over the winter months, but they allowed us to shake off some of the rust and get back in the swing of things.  Video by my friend Quincy:

"Currency", as it's called, is very important to a regular skydiver.  Though freefall is the most natural feeling in the world to me, it is not a natural activity and one can forget how to "fly" after a prolonged lay-off.  Most jumpers try and get out pretty much every weekend for at least a couple of jumps.

(P.S.  YouTube is getting really goofy with copyright fears!  Quincy had put together for me a DVD with a background song, and this was what I uploaded to YouTube without thinking much about it.  I was astounded to see that they now automatically scan uploaded videos for similarities to pop music, and block things that have musical clips.  I replaced it with some horse$#!+ that YouTube 'suggested'.)

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Swoop bowling!

Nov 25 2008 Published by under Sports

This is my busy class day today, so I don't have time for a detailed post.  However, a friend of mine sent me a video of his recent skydiving exploits, which he refers to as 'swoop bowling'.  I present the video, with the disclaimer (for my fiancée) that this isn't something I would do:

I have to say, it's nice to see my old home DZ again, even if only in a video!

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'Fusion Man' tools across the Channel

Sep 26 2008 Published by under Sports

I've previously mentioned the exploits of Yves Rossy, aka "Fusion Man", a daredevil who had successfully built and tested a jet-powered wing.  Now, according to CNN, Rossy has taken a flight across the English Channel!  The 22-mile flight from Calais to Dover took less than 15 minutes to accomplish.  Information about Rossy and his wing can be found at his official website.

The National Geographic Channel will be airing a special on the flight tonight.

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Bill Murray makes a skydive!

Aug 17 2008 Published by under Sports

(h/t my Mom)  For the opening of the 50th Chicago Air & Water show on Friday, actor Bill Murray decided to take the plunge and make a tandem skydive!  The raw footage of his skydive can be seen at the Chicago Tribune here.

The funny thing about it is, with only a few notable deviations, the video plays very much like the video anyone would get making a tandem!  There's the pre-launch interview, the look at the altimeter at altitude, the pre-jump questioning, followed by the jump and a 'debrief' immediately upon landing.

What were the deviations?  Watch the video, and then follow me below...

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My photo in Parachutist Magazine!

Aug 01 2008 Published by under Sports

I'm famous!  The balloon jump I did a couple of months ago, with video and pictures, made it as a photo in Parachutist, the official USPA (United States Parachute Association) publication.  Here's the relevant page:

That's me leaping out in the upper left corner!  I've demurely blocked out my name in the caption, even though my pseudonym isn't a particularly big secret these days.

My plan to penetrate all sorts of media is proceeding briskly!  I've been quoted in newspapers, books, journals, and now magazines.  All that's left is to get myself on the radio and television, preferably without doing something horrible!   😛

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