Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Circle of Friends

The entire collection of pilots here spent 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Sunday waiting on the hill for the appropriate weather to fly a task. It never came. The wind was too high to safely launch or to give a significant amount of the pilots a reasonable chance of completing the task.

Though the unsuitable winds and conditions had been anticipated in the weather forecasts for days, the race committee was reluctant to waste a possible competition day. And so everyone waited until it was too late in the day to begin.

On the women's division side of the hill, an impromptu international friendship day ensued. The sense of intense and yet (for the most part) completely amicable competition is one of the aspects of these competitions that brings me to volunteer to work at them time and time again.

I found 3-time and current world champion Corinna among the Japanese. Though Corinna is fluent in four European languages, she's leaning Japanese and delights in using what bit of fluency she's gained in making the shy and reserved Japanese team feel welcome.

Though English is spoken most of all, I always delight in walking around the pre-launch preparations, listening to the sound of so many different languages, many of them spoken by a non-native: Italians speaking German and French, Argentines speaking Italian, Dutch speaking almost anything at all, and the Americans doubted if they speak English at all.

In the photo above, left to right: Russian Natalia, American Jamie, the other Russian Natalia, German Regina, English Kathleen, Swedish Birgit, German Corinna, French Francoise, and Dutch Hadewych.

The Russians have five women here, including new comers 24 year old Zhenya (l.) and 21 year old Yulia (r.).

Yulia is exceptionally comfortable in English and therefore enjoys a particularly close friendship with seemingly everyone. Bright, energetic, playful and spirited, she is everyone's delight.

All the Russians are kindly amused with my efforts to speak Russian. I've been trying to add two new Russian words each day to a notebook I carry with me. They're happy to help while they giggle and laugh beside me, though always with patience and support.

A few days ago I used the internet to translate what I thought was "I'll see you down below," a phrase I could use when they take off. When I showed them the phrase written out in my version of a hand-written Cyrillic alphabet and told them what I thought it was saying, one of the Natalias smiled with amusement and said, "Tee-mo-thee, you have written,'You go up, I go down.'"

Close enough for now.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Keeping up with me until September

I'm not sure I'll be posting much here until I'm reunited with my own laptop sometime towards the end of September. It's being shipped to the USA along with my two bikes and other various items I gathered in my years in England.

I don't have any photo editing ability on this ASUS Eee PC laptop that I bought for $300 to use while I'm while puttering around Europe. It has a Linux operating system, not Windows. Finally getting around to learning Linux (something I've always wanted to do) is one reason I bought this PC. I'm still learning the ins and outs of it so working out the kinks in downloading and installing a Linux-based photo editor might take a while.

Being such a visually oriented person, I can't even begin to imagine trying to tell any tale without photos, and putting them on this blog requires perusing the multitude of hi resolution I take each day, selecting and cropping a few, then reducing them to a lower resolution image suitable for a website.

At the moment, I don't have the software on this pint-sized "subnotebook PC to do that. The photo above was usable only because I shot it just now in a low resolution mode on my camera, something I wouldn't want to do with with all the other images I capture during the day.

Jamie, however, is religious about updating her blog. Since we're traveling together and doing essentially the same thing from now until all the way to August 25th or so, you can look on her blog to see what I'm doing. Since the World Championships began a few days ago, she's been so busy during the day getting ready to compete that she uses many of the photos I've taken for myself to flesh out her blog (particularly ones of her).

You might even get a glimpse of now and then (such as my elbow on the left here from this blog entry).

Monday, July 21, 2008

Italy: First Glimpse

Practice day here on Monte Cucco, above the small village of Sigillo.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

What's Next?

  • World Hang Gliding Championships in Sigillo, Italy until August 2nd, supporting Corinna (video here) and Jamie as Corinna defends her World Champion title and Jamie competes as well.
  • Sailing among the Balearic Islands off the Mediterranean coast of Spain in mid August with German, Jamie, and others.
  • Heading back to the States in September?