"Spin" in aviation training: a "stall" or loss of lift, a subsequent nose-down spin, the specific actions required for recovery, and the feeling, after recovery, that you could tackle absolutely anything!

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Operetta: LOL

A friend took me to an operetta a while back. We had decent seats and though the roster wasn't from the A-list, I was ready for some good voices. I wasn't disappointed. In fact I inadvertently got more entertainment than I had expected thanks to an odd blocking maneuver and a costume malfunction. 

The main character for this production had to wear full period dress with corset, bustle and train. In order to navigate the stage, she needed to make sure that she did not step on her train when she turned so she would execute a kind of rearward karate kick to billow the fabric away from her and then step-out with the same foot to make the turn. Her execution was effective but, umm, less than graceful. Jarring, really. She would float, float, float over the stage and then, out of nowhere, karate-kick-back-and-step-out. It was like she was dancing ballet with a football maneuver thrown in, or perhaps trying to dislodge the bite of a small dog that had hold of her ankle

This made me laugh. 

But, I worked to keep it to myself out of respect for the effort. 

Yes, I worked very hard,


Later in the show, this character sat sideways to the audience while her ladies in waiting affixed a large(I mean lampshade-sized) tiara on her head. It was impressive on a "Miss Saigon" scale, with a pearl the size of a plumb-bob hanging down in the middle of the forehead. Or, at least I think it was supposed to be in the middle of the forehead. I became suspicious of what I was about to see as the ladies fussed oddly with the tiara. From my view of her left side, things didn't look quite balanced…

And I became afraid. So very afraid.

My eyes opened wide as the character stood. I took a deep breath. Then she did it. She killed me. She did her karate-kick-step-out, turned to face the audience and I completely fell apart. The tiara was listing dangerously to the right, almost over her eye, the pearl nowhere near centre. She looked like a Disney character who had downed several vodka shots after a long day, mouse ears askew, or perhaps Foster Brooks in drag.

 I quickly bowed my head and covered my eyes. I snorted. I bit my lip. I couldn't breathe and I could not stop laughing. Air was going in, shooting out, and wanting desperately to make sound. Big sound. I fought and fought and after several minutes made myself focus on the flute player's music score down in the orchestra pit. But my eyes kept filling with tears and my shoulders kept convulsing through the rest of the evening as if I was sitting on a bus routed over a rutted country road.

I felt absolutely horrible. I know the performers were doing their best. I know that if they saw me, which I would imagine they did, that they hated me. But I will never forget that show. It brought tears to my eyes even writing this. I was completely entertained.

And my friend was no help. She was laughing just as hard. I didn't stand a chance. Really.


Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Big Bang

I have always believed in the Big Bang theory but now that there's proof my brain has turned into a peeling banana. I have spent the day wandering around, pacing: looking at my rose plant, blooming and feeding off the rays of the sun, vacuuming up dust and particles of everything(space) and nothing(space), watching the clock tattle on time passing, and wondering who/what else is out there. What is the universe expanding into? The questions roil between thing/not thing. Oh, wait. Then there's WHY. 

I've done this before, gone down this rabbit hole. This is familiar territory but that doesn't mean it isn't troubling. On the contrary, it makes mankind's inability to get along embarrassing. We have the talent to see the beginning of time, but our mayor is a drunken clown, and Putin…well you get the idea. 

I started reading Jim Holt's Why Does the World Exist, this morning after vacuuming, a book I purchased several months ago. I've been putting it down to think, and then picking up Mary Oliver's A Thousand Mornings (a most wonderful birthday gift!) and struggling with the breadth in between. Existence? Emotion? Behaviour? Beliefs? Love? Poetry? Wes Anderson? Fission? Taxes? I know mankind has asked these questions before, but now they're in MY head, jammed in so tight that I fear my own cranial Big Bang.

I'm going cycling before I go completely insane.

Thursday, 13 March 2014


I watched the movie, Particle Fever, the other day. It's a fantastic glimpse of the excitement around CERN's Large Hadron Collider. I loved the movie, and it's not because I understand exactly what the physicists are talking about in it. I know they're looking for the "Higgs Bosun," and I know that the size of it has to do with super symmetry as opposed to the multiverse: 126 Gev(or 124?). I watched as Peter Higgs, namesake of this God particle, tears up at having the discovery of his idea made in his lifetime. But I think the thing that got me, was that all of the physicists in the room, in the building, and around the world, belong to something important. When the results were announced, the cheer that went up in the room was tremendous. I envy the people involved in that. I envy anyone involved in anything so meaningful, where you are really a part of something. I would love that.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Buenos Dias!

I am at a crosswalk. Just as the walk light changes in my favor, sirens bellow and two great red fire trucks hulk out of the nearby station, lean around the corner and roll past like friendly Pixar monsters woken from a nap. Instead of crossing, I stand and wait for them to pass. Once they do, my light changes again, forcing me to stay where I am but I don't complain. The sun is in my face and the air smells of spring for the first time in a long time so I'm happy to just enjoy it. As I wait, four middle-aged Mexican men, deep in a rather animated discussion in spanish, arrive at the same cross walk. The strange thing is that instead of walking to my left side or my right side, they stand all around me. I know only very little spanish but I don't think I am the subject of their exchange. I don't feel threatened at all and actually begin to chuckle: they seem more goofy than anything I should be concerned about. Just as the light changes, two of the men reach out and do a knuckle bump right in front of me. It is all I can do not to laugh out loud. They hurry across the road. For a minute, I consider staying where I am in the sun and the warm, and see who else is going to meander up to this cross walk, but I continue across and run my errands. I've been chuckling about this all day. 

"Muchas gracias!"

Sunday, 9 March 2014


I am quiet all morning. Except for one phone conversation I am judge over none but my own thoughts. Time blinks to late morning, finds me grumpy and worrying: my default setting. I bundle up and leave to the market to get food. I turn the corner and see a man wrapped in an old jacket, a hoody underneath and several bags slung over his shoulder walking toward me. His tanned, gritty face is set in defense mode until I smile at him. His eyes raise and he smiles back. He seems as surprised as I am at this change. I continue on and see a group of them outside the mission. For a minute, I veer towards the road planning to cross to the other side and avoid all these troubled men, leathered and exhausted after the long winter on the street. But I do not cross. Instead, I walk right down the middle of the group and there, one lovely young man, standing slightly apart on the street smiles at me:

 "Hey, I like your hat!"

 Now it is my turn. I raise my eyes and smile back at him...

We are all okay.