I bought a ½ pint carton of milk at work this morning to put into my cereal. As I rode the elevator up to the 9th floor, I read the labels on the carton. Here’s what one of the panels read:
INGREDIENTS: FAT FREE MILK, VITAMIN A PALMITATE, VITAMIN D3.
Uh, yea. But it seems to me that it should at the very least say “Contains: Cow’s milk.” How do I know that I’m not drinking dog’s milk, or dingo’s milk, or even worse, pig’s milk? If they are going to be kind enough to tell me that there is milk in my milk (sorry for sounding like W.C. Fields here—“Who put pineapple juice in my pineapple juice?”), I would appreciate knowing what kind of milk is in my milk.
Sailor Boy and I had an adventure Saturday. It was pretty awesome! It was the first time in a very long time that I did something exciting and was able to cross off something on my list of Things to Do before I Die.
We went hang gliding.
So, I headed down to his place in Alexandria, which seemed kind of odd to me as he had to come rather near my apartment…but he was driving, so I couldn’t complain. I got there, and we were off to run some errands he had to do at the last minute. Whatev, no worries. Finally, we were off and on our way.
I was navigator, which is not always a good thing. I had MapQuest directions in hand, and all was good until we were supposed to get off at a road that didn’t seem to exist. Whatev, no worries. We just turned around and tried again. Nope, no good. We seemed to have missed this phantom exit again. So, we end up taking the way long way round to get to Route 50. OK, so we’re finally on the right road, and all is well. We get to the Bay Bridge and traffic begins to slow, but it’s OK because we still have plenty of time. The email we received said that we had a noon fly time, and the small print, which we didn’t read until much later, said we needed to be there a ½ hour early for ground school (i.e., training).
So, I start to get a little worried because traffic is slowing, and as a born and inbred Baltimoron, I should have known that what with it being a beautiful day, there was going to be tons of traffic heading “downy shore.” (That’s “going to the beach at Ocean City” in Baltimorese.) Sure enough, traffic grinds to a halt. I start to get really nervous. After all, I sunk $175 into this venture. So, I called the place and told them, and the guy was very friendly and told me that he had received several calls from other people saying they, too, were stuck in traffic and that it was no problem…just get there when we could. Besides, he said, the cloud deck was very low, and they were waiting for it clear. I looked out the window, and he was right.
After what felt like hours (but not really more than ½ of one), we pulled into the parking lot at Highland Aerosports. It was kind of a strange name, really, because we were close to the ocean, which means that everything is very flat—not even an anthill, let alone anything that could be misconstrued as highlands…not even a wee bonny lass to be seen. We walked around a bit and saw people learning the moves they would need once they hurled themselves from the safe confines of a plane. We passed other folks lounging around, and we finally found the group who, like us, had come here based on an email we received from Things To Do (more on them anon). We filled out the obligatory paperwork that said that if we died we couldn’t sue Highland Aerosports, and then the wait began.
As I mentioned, we were supposed to be there at 11:30. I’d say we got there about 12:30. Had everything filled out by 12:35, so we were ready to go. The Sailor tried to make friends with this group of 5 girls, but they were clearly more interested in the sleazy frat boys (who, by the by, if they weren’t as old as me, they were way older). That was really no problem as Sara, the leader of the pack, was one of those people who talks incessantly and says absolutely nothing. (I recognize that what I’m about to say is cliché, but sometimes there’s a reason something is cliché.) She had a voice like nails on a chalkboard. After 15 minutes of listening to her saying absolutely nothing, I was desperately looking for a gun to shoot myself or at least a shovel to whack myself over the head. While I was looking for the aforementioned weapons of opportunity, the frat boys were surely looking at her and her girlfriends’ tits.
Then there was the Executive Assistant who had a chip on her shoulder because she was an executive assistant and she did a lot more than that and didn’t get the pay. Fortunately, she explained, she was going to an MBA program in the fall, and there she knew she wouldn’t have to work hard because those programs aren’t about work, they’re about networking, and while she knows that she’s going to ace the GMAT, she knew that she was going to do well. Oh, and even though she didn’t actually seem to know the word legacy, she knew that she was one for some school where her dad went so that was her fallback school because she was going to get in there. Oh, did I mention that she was ½ French (and had the passport) but didn’t speak any French. Oh, and did I mention that she does a whole lot more than a typical executive assistant at a Fortune 500 company does (after all, those executive assistants do nothing but get coffee, while she does everything at her company).
Then there was the rep from Things To Do. He, too, looked like a frat boy, but at least he was the right age. He was extremely unprofessional and annoying, but at least he was friendly. He arrived late as well—also due to the traffic. I came to find out later that there was another reason (more below). He brought pizza and soda as promised in the email. He also brought a girl. (more below). The Sailor and I had conflicting attitudes about his role. I felt that as the rep for Things To Do, he should have been there early, he should have been around to entertain us, and he should have ensured that we all got a turn. Here’s how it played out:
As I mentioned, he came late. Officially, it was because of traffic. As I mentioned, he brought a girl. It turns out that the girl was not his girlfriend, but some chick he was trying to bang. What better way to impress a chick than take her hang gliding. So, he arrived at her house bright and early, and apparently she had no desire to go (with him?) hang gliding, so she wasn’t ready. He apparently wouldn’t take no for an answer and waited for her to get ready—thus making him late. As I mentioned, due to the low cloud deck, we had to wait a ridiculously long time. So, instead of ensuring that we were all happy and satisfied, he walks over to his jeep, takes off his shirt, gets into the jeep, and reclines the seat. He came back about 5 minutes later to talk to the chick he brought and convince her to get in the jeep as well—where, he announced to her so all could hear, that it was much more comfortable.
Finally, we are told to head down to the flight line so we can get ground school training. We all wander down there, and again we wait for about 10 minutes (but this time there is no shade, but it’s also about 3:30 at this point). Ground school consists of the “instructor” saying that if we shift our weight to the left, we go left, if we shift right, we go right. Forward speeds us up and back slows us down. We needed a ½ hour for that?
So, then he says who’s first? Sara, of course, pipes up and say she will go. The Sailor says that he will go first on the other glider. Because we had planned to buy a roll of film to get our pics taken in flight, I was to go after him. One of the dudes in our group (not the frat boy, but still a dude macking on the annoying chicks) asks the Sailor if he get jump ahead of us because he has somewhere to be far away—like we don’t. Being the gentleman, the Sailor agrees. Once that dude is in the air, the rep comes by and asks if his “girlfriend” can jump ahead of us as well because he wants her to get a chance to go and he needs to leave early because he has another event he needs to attend in DC. Sara, in the meantime, is airborne, and we can actually hear her; yup, you guessed right, she still hasn’t shut her mouth. Once Sara lands, she is out of her harness and gapping away about her flight. One of her girlfriends is getting into the harness, and the guys that work there are trying to help her, but Sara is barking orders and instructing her friend how to do it this way and do it that way. I give the workers a lot of credit, I would have told her to shut the fuck up, but they just laughed it off.
Next thing I know, the rep is gearing up to go next. WTF? He’s the worker bee, and he has now muscled not only his girlfriend in before a bunch of others (paying others, I might add), but he has now gotten himself ahead of the crowd. Once he landed, the two of them were gone. Good riddance as far as I’m concerned.
Finally, it was our turn, and going on 5 pm. The Sailor went first, and it was so cool to watch him go up and work his way down. I was waiting for some crazy acrobatics, but none came. When he landed I asked if he had pussyed out. No, it turns out that he was too heavy, and they really shouldn’t have taken him. This was another bone of contention for me. If Things To Do had handled this professionally, they would have told us before we paid the $175 each to go. No matter, he was able to go up and come down safely, so he at least got the experience.
I need to stress at this point that I have no issues with Highland Aerosports, and I felt that they were competent and professional throughout. It was only this Things To Do and their questionable choice of letting an inexperienced, immature child be the responsible party. I say this because it is now my turn to go hang gliding, and it was so totally worth the wait!
I get harnessed up. We went tandem, so the instructor was below me. As I was squirming into the harness, he was explaining to me again how to control the glider, and where to keep my hands on the ascent. We were snuggled in, and the tow line was in place. The instructor looked up and behind him at me and asked if I was ready. “As ready as I’ll ever be,” I replied. With that, he gave the signal to the tow plane, and away we went.
The glider we were on had 3 wheels, 2 in the front, and 1 in the back. They were like the wheels on a shopping cart: wobbly. To make it worse, we were taking off on a dirt runway, which means there were lots of rocks around to make for a bumpy ride. At least, that was what I was ready for…a bone-jarring ride down a runway that resembled something you’d see the Escobar Cartel using. No, that wasn’t it at all. Immediately after he gave the go signal, I felt us accelerating, accelerating fast. Within 30 feet the glider was airborne, and we were now skimming over the dirt and pebbles, gliding smoothly through the air. Before 30 seconds we were at least 100 feet in the air. The instructor asked how I was doing. I had to take a moment to collect my thoughts. My first thought was why is every muscle in my body so taut? So, I relaxed, took a deep breath and said that I was doing great. I looked down and it was like looking out of a plane window, except I could feel the wind on my face. It was so beautiful to be so high in the air and looking down over God’s Green Earth. The clouds were gone and visibility had to have been several miles. I asked the instructor how fast we were going. He said we were going about 35 miles an hour. I remember saying that I was surprised that he and I could have a conversation…that it was so much quieter than I would have expected. He told me to wait until the plane released us.
He was right. To say that it was majestic just doesn’t do justice to the experience of soaring through the air. Humanity has fought with gravity since time immemorial, da Vinci and his prototype of the helicopter, hot air balloons, and the airplane. And here I was, one insignificant mortal looking physics in the face and laughing, defying nature, defying laws, flying. The ability to reflect like this and to witness the Earth sprawling out before you while being suspended by nylon 2,100 feet in the air is testament to what hang gliding was for me. There was something so peaceful and cathartic about soaring like the birds, living above the clouds.
I was startled back to reality when the instructor asked if I wanted to take the helm. Hell yea, I did. He told me to turn right. I leaned in, and the serene moment was shattered. I managed to get the glider to turn, but suddenly it felt like we were going to flip, or worse yet, that we were pointing downward too much and that we were going to crash. I felt like I was about to panic, when I heard the instructor’s voice, calm and clear, say, “good, now, level us off to trim.” What the fuck is “trim”? They didn’t teach us that in “ground school.” So, a little scared that I was going to flip to the right, I moved my body weight back to left, and we began to level off in the new course. I leaned back and the nose came up a little. We were flying straight. The instructor looked up at me and said, “that was really good. Most people over compensate and get out of the turn too soon.” Really? You mean my sudden almost panic attack was for naught? COOL! I think I can get the hang of this.
Then he told me to turn left. Feeling a little more confident that the feeling of flipping was normal and I shouldn’t worry, I put my weight into turning left and straightening out again to trim (which I figured out was when you are flying straight with the horizon). He told me I was swinging my weight wrong…don’t pull my body to the left, but pull the glider down to my left hip (or right as the case might be). I tried that going into a right turn, and amazingly, it was almost effortless. I was smiling, amazed that I hadn’t panicked. I was so proud of myself. Then he asked if I wanted to stall? “Hell no,” I replied. And in that same confident and calm tone, he said, “OK, no problem.”
Then I realized that I was pussying out, so I asked if we could do a few acrobatics. He said sure, and I removed my hands from the bars, and held on tight. The first thing we needed to do, he explained was stall. He pushed all of our weight back and brought the nose straight up. You could feel all the wind stop for a second. It was like the cartoons where you are just suspended in air, then, like coming off the acme of a rollercoaster, we dropped, but my stomach didn’t. He immediately put us into a turn, first to the right, then to the left. Apparently, the tandem gliders can’t do a full 360, so he had to come out of the role so we wouldn’t plummet to the ground. We did about 2 or 3 of these, and then we were too low, and he set us up for landing.
Landing was actually the scariest part. We were coming in hot and fast. I understand better how the Space Shuttle works, for we did basically the same thing. We needed to bleed off speed, so we banked right, then we banked left as we approached ground. Because you don’t want to fall to the ground, you actually need to increase speed a little before landing. So, as we skimmed the ground, inches from touching down, if felt that we were going pretty fast, and I was waiting for the teeth-rattling landing that I was sure would be the end of this amazing adventure. It didn’t come, the instructor landed us as gently as placing a Ming vase on its pedestal.
And 10 minutes after taking off it was over. After waiting for over 4 hours, it was all worth it! It was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my short life. The Sailor said that he had a great time, and he was glad that he had the experience, but he wasn’t sure he needed to do it again. Me, I’m not so sure. We had to join the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association, and the membership is good for 30 days. You need so many flights before you can be certified to go it alone, and this one will count if I do it again within the 30 days. I’m sure I won’t, but I’m seriously thinking of going again and seeing if I like it as much the second time around. Also, going directly to Highland Aerosports, it only costs about $130.
Stay tuned, there might be more stories about me hang gliding, and I will try to get the pic developed soon!
I posted this picture on the photography forums I subscribe to with the following comment, "now you know where to shop for all your transgendered needs."
Another member responded with this post:
Why would transgenders need such a store? They could buy their clothes in any ordinary clothing store. I find it rather disgusting.
There is a store in the beach area where I live, called "Leathers and Lace." It caters mostly to gays, selling porn and sex toys as well as kinky leather outfits. They had a sign outside (now changed): "If you don't like our sign, don't look at it." I guess they must have had some complaints. I did take a picture of it but didn't keep it because the whole thing is so repulsive.
I'm not quite sure why you need to be digusted at the idea that transexuals would want their own stores, but just to alleviate your fears, Trani is a store I saw in Boston in June, which happens to be an ice cream parlor. While I'm sure that they would not discriminate against the LGBT community, I don't think they actually cater to them.
I thought you were serious about the store being for transsexuals. I'm not disgusted with the store even if it really was for that purpose, although my words might have made it seem that way. I'm disgusted with the phenomenon of transsexuality. And I have no "fears" which need to be alleviated because I'm not afraid of transsexuals.
At this point, I felt we needed to take this offline, so I sent him a private message:
I'm sorry, I should not have challenged you in the public forum, and I'll be happy to remove my posts if you'd like, but I am a little curious why you would find transexuals so disgusting
He sent me this long email that just blew my mind. People really think like this? I make jokes, but this truly makes me feel so sad.
The person, I have no problem with, nor do I judge them. As with homosexuality I am naturally repulsed by the actual act. I do discern between the person and the offense and do not condemn the person because of the offense
I am a Christian (please forgive me for throwing that at you) and I see that God also condemns such acts as cross-dressing and homosexual sex but he does not condemn the persons. It breaks my heart to see people having sex change operations, just as it also breaks God's heart. It suggests that God made a mistake when He created them, but that is not so.
Long before I became a Christian and even as a long-time atheist, I was repulsed by these things. I first learned of them when I was about eleven years old and felt sick to my stomach when other boys described the details to me. At first I did not believe them yet still felt great repulsion. I hasten to add that I have not been abused by such persons but I have been approached for homosexual sex, as an adult. It is hard to describe the feeling when homosexuals do that.
Transexuality and and homosexuality go hand in hand, that is why I am including homosexuals in this matter.
Now, as a minister, for the past eight years I have been helping such people, among others. This is something I do six nights a week after I come home from work. It involves exorcisms because both transsexuality and homosexuality are spiritual problems, not mental, nor natural. I deal with human pain night after night, caused by sexual, physical and mental abuse. Sexual abuse is one of the world's biggest problems.
Many of the homosexuals and transsexuals who come to me have been sexually abused as children. Some became that way from sexual experimentation. Either way, tremendous hurt is caused. It leads to broken families, severe depression, suicide or suicidal thoughts, voices in the head, visions of apparitions etc. All of these things are considered to be "mental illness" but it is not so.
In the eight years I have done this, I have often gone to bed and wept over the pain that people endure. I see what pornography does to people and it is condemned by God but supported by the U.S. Supreme Court who say it is protected by the Constitution. So the people who indulge deeply in their Constitutional porn, later end up facing a judge at their trial for rape or other sexual abuse. It is porn which leads a person to become a pedophile, rapist or a murderer. The help given to children is a joke because the depth of sexual abuse is not understood by those committed to helping the kids. And even if they did understand, there is little they can do about it.
The bright side of all this is, the homosexuals and transsexuals who come to me become heterosexual, just as they were when they were first born. Nobody is born homosexual, despite their beliefs that they were. And nobody was born with the wrong body. God does not create such beings and then condemn their sex lives.
Now imagine what a transsexual must feel when they have been delivered of the spiritual side of their problem but is still in the body that they changed. Imagine a man who became a woman but now realizes that he really is a man. It is much harder to change back to his original form than it was to change his gender for the first time.
One person with a similar problem came to me just a couple of months ago. This person said he was a man in a woman's body. "He" was in his thirties when we spoke. I knew right from the start that this was really a woman who believed she was a man in a woman's body. By time that evening was over, the woman was free in her spirit and rejoicing, hardly able to believe what had happened to her. The cause? Sexual abuse when she was a child. She was actually in the midst of talks with her surgeon about a sex change operation.She had been evaluated by a psychiatrist and was preparing for the change.
God calls homosexuality a "perversion" and "an abomination." It is the perverse part of a person's nature which repulses me. The actual person, my heart grieves for even if they are happy for a while in their new form.
he suicide rate among homosexuals is higher than that of heterosexuals. I know I keep talking about homosexuals but that is what transsexuals also are. A man becomes a woman and begins a sexual relationship with a man. The transsexual's spirit is still the male spirit which he was given at conception, therefore it results in two men having sex.
There is more which I could describe but I think I have said enough. Perhaps I am overly sensitive to these problems but until you listen to the person's terrible story, it is hard to imagine such grief caused by one human to another. Of course, not all homosexuals or transsexuals remember what happened to them as children. They just feel they were born that way.
I apologize for my hasty remarks in the forum. I do not mind if you remove them but please do not remove your picture. I now understand the humourous side of it.
Today marks 6 months. 180 days. 4,320 hours. 259,200 minutes. 15,552,000 seconds.
Not too shabby, eh?
oh how i love to write
more than i do to fight
but for a girl
and a chance to score
you know there's a chance that i might