Falling From The Sky

More serious post coming tomorrow I hope, but for now, this. About 0200 this morning, my brain decided I needed to be up and thinking about skydiving. Since I had to suffer through it, thought I would share the suffering. Well, and some laughter too.

Many, many moons ago, I did indeed jump out of perfectly good airplanes and fall from the sky. I joined the university sky diving club, and in addition to the first jump lessons jumped in on much more. I learned to pack a chute, was getting trained on packing reserves, and enjoyed the company of a crazy but interesting group of people. Not going to share too many names and such, just in case any shenanigans might not have had their statute of limitations expire. Or some people might not want to admit they were at certain parties or did certain things including jump out of perfectly good airplanes.

I do still remember my first jump (thank you lightning for leaving that one intact). Beautiful day, puffy clouds in the sky, you really couldn’t ask for better. Now, being a small club we jumped from a small plane. No ramp, no standing in the door, just a somewhat uncomfortable ride up, hook up your static line (first jumps are made so you really have to work at it to F up), then get out on a little step/platform while holding onto the wing strut. Jumpmaster makes a final check, reassures you, then has you let go and go into proper jump position.

For me, I barely hit the arch when the static line hit and the chute opened. It’s hard to describe the sensation of the chute opening, but imagine King Kong yanking you up by your harness as hard as he can. Not bad, but you do feel it. Per training, I quickly checked to be sure my chute was good, then enjoyed the view. On my way down, I went through a cloud which was amazing. Cool, moist, slightly gray whispiness. Really wish it could have lasted longer as it was neat.

Soon it was time to land, and I actually made the drop zone. In what became a trend, my Parachute Landing Fall (PLF) was somewhat spectacular. Not in a good way either. But, any landing you walk away from jumping out of planes or flying them is a good one. I walked away, and mentally was ready to go again.

In short, it was a pretty good first jump. Not so much for my buddy who I will call “Mike”. Mike was a bodybuilder/weightlifter who had muscles on muscles. Even our baggy jump suits (designed to help you play flying squirrel while in freefall) could not hide his physique. What it did hide, however, was an issue for him.

Mike left the plane right after me, and I was looking around after checking my chute and such. I heard a scream above me, a male voice rising rapidly. I looked up, and there was Mike, literally pulling himself up his shrouds one-handed while the other frantically tried to get one of his leg straps off his balls. Yep, he made the mistake you only make once and had not gotten his leg straps in the right position. Baggy jump suits do make that a bit difficult to be fair. That said, the King Kong sensation I mentioned earlier becomes more like having Hammering Hank in his prime hit your groin with a baseball bat. Been told it feels like that for the ladies too.

Mike made it on down safely, did a good PLF, and oddly enough had his leg straps undone almost immediately. It was his first and last jump.

First jumps bring out a number of odd reactions. There was a young lady who wanted to jump and so went through the lessons the club offered. Seemed nice enough but also a bit flaky in some ways, so it was decided to hook her up with a voice-operated radio so she could be coached from the ground if need be. Our reserves had an automatic opening system, so you were pretty much guaranteed to make it down in one piece, one way or another.

I was on the ground near the instructors when she jumped, and we were all watching. She did two things not uncommon on a first jump. First, she screamed. She kept screaming, and we heard it clear as day courtesy of the voice-activated radio. Second, she was a runner. If she had been on the ground I think she would have done 0-60 in under five seconds. Unlike most, she kept running even after the chute opened.

Since she was still screaming, the instructors could not coach her. Which she needed as she seemed to forget everything she had been taught. She even pulled both toggles down at once, which collapses your chute. Radio useless, we all started shouting from the ground. Thankfully, she did finally release the toggles and the chute did open back up. Even with us yelling instructions up to her, I don’t think she ever did really steer herself towards the drop zone. Instead, she came down onto the parking apron of the airport, still running, hit, and pitched face forward into the asphalt. Proof that God looks after fools and drunks, she got up without a scratch.

As we were around her, making sure she was unhurt, she said something to the effect ‘that wasn’t so bad. Can I go again?” I think the resounding no from more than one person hurt her feelings. That said, I don’t think she realized how close she came to potentially being a cake — as in a splat cake. If she hadn’t let go of the toggles, no one was sure if the auto-deploy on the reserve would have work based on velocity. Add in the lack of steering and no attempt at PLF, well…

Besides, you did need to steer. One reason was that the airport where we jumped, there was a guard dog kennel nearby. The dogs there viewed our arrival each Saturday as if it was that of a Chicken Delight truck. I’m not saying they put on bibs and salivated as they watched us, but… One of the members I got to know had a close call with them, as his departure from the plane was such that it made hitting the airport interesting. Since we were using round chutes mostly (squares/parasails were a very new thing), you didn’t have a lot of maneuver.

The jumpmaster had put him out so that he ended up headed straight to the kennels. Frantically trying to steer away from them, he had to bring his knees up to his chest to clear the kennel fence. The dogs were jumping and trying to catch him before he got away. He later swore that there were marks from the dogs on the bottom of his boots. Lifting up his legs did let him clear, and he landed just a few feet outside the kennels.

Being a jumpmaster and telling people when to leave the plane is an art rather than a science. For some, I swear it was a Picasso painting with no science involved. After my first or second jump I switched to a precision round so that I had a bit more control and maneuverability even if you did hit a bit harder since it was smaller than a reserve. ‘Eh, you’ll probably hit the airport’ is not something you want to hear, and I swear it may have been the unofficial motto for the jumpmasters.

When they did a demo jump onto campus, not long before I joined I think, only a couple of the jumpers hit the large parade field that was the target. One jumper landed in the parking lot of an off-campus fraternity house, going over backwards onto a concrete parking bumper that shattered their helmet. Another took out the power line to an on-campus dorm with their jaw. Another landed on the other side of the dorm and I seem to remember a tree may have been involved.

But the most interesting miscalculation happened before I joined, and it not only put the jumper down well away from the airport but resulted in what I call The Gabriel Incident.

As I said, square chutes were just becoming a thing. The club had a member who bought one, which was brilliant white. Soon, his helmet, jump suit, and even boots I was told, were brilliant white. He made quite a sight when he jumped. It also almost got him badly hurt or worse.

Between the vagaries of jumpmasters, winds, and other delights, the club had a chase vehicle to go get those who landed away from the target. Not going to mention the year this was, but it was an early 70s station wagon in all it’s glory. And it was lucky it was available that day.

Let us just say that things went awry. Our intrepid jumper in white ended up well away from the airport, well out into the farmlands. By chance, he ended up landing near a small church of a non-traditional type. One person involved simply called it a ‘roller church’ but they were well into their service when the jumper flashed by their windows. Which apparently sent a number into paroxysms and cries of “Gabriel, Gabriel” filled the air.

At least until someone went outside, realized it was just a jumper, and decided that it had been done deliberately to mock them. Luckily, no torches or pitchforks were handy, but soon a small mob of people were after the jumper. So, here he is, chute wrapped up in his arms as he best can, running down a rural farm road with an angry mob intent of vengeance behind him.

The driver and others in the chase car came up on this scene and made a bold decision. They didn’t stop.

Instead, they got around the mob and the jumper, lowered the back window of the station wagon, and slowed down just enough he could push his chute into the back. Someone grabbed him and pulled him partly in, at which point the driver reportedly put the pedal to the metal and took off with the jumper’s legs still dangling out the back.

For obvious reasons, this remained a favorite story of the club. It also does make me wish that modern helmet-mounted video had been around then. It could be a tall tale, but I will say that I was warned to avoid going anywhere near a certain small church out in the country either on the ground or in the air, and they were serious when they said it.

No, I never did a nude jump. Had a couple of (female) members of the club taken part I probably would have. As it was, they had done one not long before I joined, and didn’t do another while I was a member.

My last jump was sadly not with the club. Another member and I went to another group to get some jumps in, and frankly it was a mistake. Let’s just say the people in that group were many things, including possibly sociopathic. Let’s just say that “George” of the magnificent mustache and I were glad to leave that day and may possibly have discussed tossing someone out of a plane sans parachute after finding out they had tossed animals out of the plane for fun. Or at least they claimed they had done so.

My memories are a bit fragmented (stupid lightning), but I can’t remember if a third person was with us or not. If not, it was George who came down almost a mile away because the jumpmaster mis-set the auto open on his reserve. It fired as he left the plane and went into freefall, leaving him no choice but to cut away his main and come down on reserve. No way to make the drop zone, there were winds, and his landing was reminiscent of the opening scenes of The Six Million Dollar Man. He sat up, waved to show he was okay, then went back down. Never would admit if he was out cold or not.

Me, I made my most spectacular landing yet. You can stall a round chute almost like a square, if you time things just right. That day, I did not get it right. Short version, I came to a picture-perfect stop — while still ten or more feet above a freshly plowed field. Think Wile E. Coyote frantically blowing up at a collapsed chute and that would have been me. I threw my back risers up, got out the word “Oh” and finished the phrase after I hit. When you bury yourself up to your knees in a freshly plowed field, there is no PLF. I went over on my back hard.

I was supposed to do a free-fall jump but between what had happened and what we had learned about our hosts, I was already not real eager. There were some issues repacking my chute, but I was assured all was good. In fact, it wasn’t until I was out on the jump step that the jumpmaster admitted all might not be good, but if there was an issue to just reach back ‘and beat the s*** out of it with your elbows.’ Think I made it back into the plane in less than half a second.

George and I were happy to leave that day, and we shared our adventure and what we had learned with the club and others. For me, it was right after that “adventure” that I got the opportunity to become a pilot. But, it was a choice of becoming a pilot or continuing to jump. So, I made the jump to flight.

It was fun, and I do miss it. Even with the changes, not sure how well my joints would take my doing another. An orthopedic surgeon who did some work on me at that time told me I had five more jumps in me, max. Don’t think I have that many in me now, and what I do have left I will save for an emergency.

I will say I was glad to miss the “cake” that happened later. Don’t know about new systems, but will simply say that you should not spend a lot of time trying to clear a malf because if you wait to less than a thousand feet to cut away and deploy your reserve, it will open and cover you like a shroud after you hit.

That said, part of me really would like to jump one of the modern squares. Maybe even do a tandem jump. Many jumpers, including the female members of the club at the time, referred to it as “The most fun you can have with your clothes on.” At the time I agreed, though today I would put flying and certain types of shooting in that category as well.

If you’ve got the itch, do it. Jumping out of planes is fun. If you don’t have the itch, well, shake your head at my adventures. Hope some of it made you laugh and smile.

Oh, one more thing. What do you do if a jumper freezes on the step? Some jumpmasters actually carried a baton to whack fingers. Or, as happened with a military jumper who wanted to try it our way, you have a pilot who just gives the jumpmaster a sadistic grin and puts the throttles full forward. Feet go out quick I’m told, and then the fingers peel off and off they go. And, occasionally, they did help someone back in. Depended on judgement and circumstances.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

A Funny

I’ve been gathering medical records for various filings, and they are interesting. They can sometimes reveal things the docs didn’t tell you about, and sometimes they show other things.

Some I got this week informed me that I was struck by lightning while sitting on my horse.

Actually, I wish I had a horse. Not a pony, I’m not asking for a pony. Now, if an older horse who is calm (and shares a similar view on life) were to come into my life, that would be great. I loved horseback riding, and want to do more when and as I can.

As best I can tell, the mixup may come from voice-to-text operations, as the initial notes correctly show I was on the porch, and it looks like house somehow ended up horse. For me, I’m now waiting to see who, if anyone, notices it as things progress.

The Scene

Music plays, evocative of film noir, building as the camera pans across the tall buildings of a city at night, the clouds that have just finished a downpour casting it into black and white. The camera zooms in and down, into the shadows of an alley and a skinny figure garbed in a stained and worn cloth coat that falls down to his feet, with the collar up and a tweed flat cap pulled down as far over his face as possible

The figure moves in the deepest shadows, preventing the camera from showing his face. The movements are skittish, scared, and the figure’s head is constantly darting about, looking. As the camera pans on his movements down the alley, dodging puddles, the music fades and we hear the figure talking to itself in a tenor that is almost childlike.

“It’s my fault, it’s all my fault. It always was, I see that now. But, I’m going to get it right, I swear. I’ve done it, I wrote up all those plans and what went wrong. Where I went wrong.”

The figure moves on, always keeping to the shadows. His voice drops, muttering to himself, and we hear sniffling, almost like he’s crying. The voice rises again.

“Curse that Tom! That cat was just mean. There was no reason for him to kill you.”

The figure stops, straightens up, and adopts a level and reasonable tone as the camera pans around behind him, a door visible on the left further down the alley.

“I mean, it’s not like we meant for you to pop up right in front of him as he’s doing his thing. And, that mousey little fella with him was not help at all! Naaa, Na, nah, I’m not going say, I promised B I would never say that again.”

The figure stoops and begins to move again, the voice becoming childlike once again.

“But, this time, I’m going to get it right. I’m going to make it up to you because I miss you and that huge brain of yours. I’ve taken everything that worked and written it down. I’ve noted everything that didn’t work, and made sure it’s not part of the plan.”

The figure stops at the previously glimpsed doorway, carefully working a key into the lock and opening the door. The camera pans around to catch the silhouetted figure walking into the pitch black room. The door closes and the scene goes black.

“Yes Big B, I’m being careful. I know they want them. Your plans, our plans, the plan that this time will work and let us take over the world. But they will never have them. They will never…”

The light switch clicks and the camera has turned so that it shows shelves upon shelves full of binders carefully titled.

“ever get them, I promise.”

The camera then turns, and we see the figure for what it truly is. A tall, skinny white lab rat who’s eyes dart nervously around in a face that is clearly not all there. With the reveal, he finishes saying

“They will never get Pinky’s Binders! 


If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, feel free to hit the tip jar in the upper right or the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo. Getting hit by lightning is not fun, and it is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.


Well! Hello!
(The redhead looks down at the key in her hand)
I’ve been invited in, and given a key, and very little restrictions. This is a bit daunting, and also a little exhilarating. I could do anything I wanted with this post! That’s… a little scary, really.

(photo credit: Oleg Volk)

My name is Cedar Sanderson, and those of you who know me, from real life or online, probably don’t realize something. I’m shy. Yes, really, the Lady in the Red Dress is a wallflower, left to her own devices. When I was a much younger woman, I was an introvert’s introvert. Then life happened. Now? I have almost twenty years of public performance under my belt. Which, surprisingly, helps with being an author. For instance, I asked a simple question, and the host here invited me in, gave me a key, and now I get to talk to you all directly. Unsupervised. I don’t think the old wolf knows me, or does he?

I’m rambling, but this is more fun, I think, than just doing my usual straightforward statement: I am an author, artist, scientist, mother, and many other things. It’s like working a room at an event, you don’t walk up and introduce yourself and then brag. You want to learn more about that person, and if they want, they’ll ask you.

I guess this post is me, being asked. It’s certainly going to be less structured and formal than the whole canned author interview usually is. Pull up a chair, get cosy, and let’s chat, shall we? I mean, there are comments. After you’ve read this intro, you can talk to me there. Best I can do!

Oh, I’m writing. I do almost every day. I do art every day, almost religiously. It’s the only way I’ll ever get better – on both counts. Besides, art is my daily san check. Some days? I’m a student of sumi-e. I’m a minimalist. That means on a bad day I can get away with a few lines. Like this…

“erotic, not dirty” art by Cedar Sanderson

Writing, well, doing it daily is great for discipline. My latest novel, The East Witch, took me three years to finish. Which isn’t normal for me. Even slow the way I have been since I started building the science career, I’ve been managing a book or two a year, plus shorts. The East Witch, though, I hit a snag with the research for the story. I plot like I’m writing an action novel – I do that no matter what subgenre I’m working in – but I like to blend in mythology and fairy tales when I am writing fantasy. I’m familiar with stories of Baba Yaga, who appears in a big way (the title reference!) but finding Siberian ethnography was… challenging. So it took me a while.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted with the end result. And, because I was working on other things in 2020, I have another novel appearing in a couple of months, plus the projects I’m working on currently! I stay busy. My brain is a bit like a squirrel on ripits and pixie sticks. So to keep it happy I have to write. And yeah, that’s about as weird in my head as it sounds. Which is why the new book will be The Case of the Perambulating Hatrack, which is a straight-up send-up of gumshoe, only fantasy. I had a blast writing it. Once it’s back from the editor (and that’s if it doesn’t send her over the edge!) I’ll share.

Currently? Oof. See, that thing about the squirrels up above? Yeah, there’s more than one. I have no less than three novels-in-progress, along with a couple of shorts for anthology calls. And then there’s the weekly prompt challenge, which of course I have to participate in, since it was my brainstorm to begin with. Although, that’s how Hatrack came into being. I wrote that novel in public, one week at a time, and then pulled it down after it was all done and off for editing. Living dangerously! So, there’s a pure space opera man-vs-nature in progress, that one ambushed me the other day. There’s a military fantasy I’m cowriting with my husband. There is the sequel to my homage to Heinlein and Norton, the first book was Tanager’s Fledglings. The second will be Tanager’s Flight.


Oh, well, that’s enough about me. What should I know about you? What more would you like to learn about me? See you in the comments!

Scammer Missing A Goldmine

I can’t believe people are still sending out (and people falling for) the scam claiming to have hacked your computer and recorded you masturbating to porn. If you don’t pay up, they will post it.

Got news for you dipshit. You could make a real fortune by having people pay to not see me if such existed. The market for that is huge compared to one fairly poor blogger.

If nothing else, it gave me a laugh this morning. May this make you smile if nothing else, we need all the smiles and laughter we can get right now.

COVID-19 13Mar20 The Game Of Loads And Vectors Gets Real For America

Starting with a bit of humor today, as the vast majority of people in the U.S. have not been paying attention and for them the world turned upside down yesterday. Beloved celebrities, sports, music, movies, and more. For the majority, many of whom who reacted with anger and more, the Game Of Loads And Vectors just got real.

For me, I just wish this one had been real. Fake news, outstanding troll, and really well done. Sadly, it’s not and what follows is all too real and all too frequent

Thanks to Larry Correia and Jessie Barrett for this

There really isn’t a lot to say right now. This never has been (and never could have been because of the Chinese) about prevention. It is about slowing the rate of infection so as not to overwhelm the medical system. It is about slowing the rate of infection to allow time to ramp up resources, do research, and develop both treatments and vaccine(s). It is about protecting as many lives as possible, along with the economic health of the Republic and its Citizens.

Sadly, we are behind the curve. Not because of the Administration or Trump or Pence, etc. No, the failure rests squarely on the shoulders of the elite, the pros, the deep bureaucracy/deep state. Don’t believe me? Well, here’s this in the New York Times and here’s this in Reason. Then, go read this about a different aspect of the failure of the CDC to prepare to perform their basic and fundamental mission.

Why does it matter? Well, immediately it matters because that lack of preparation and failure to do the job not only spreads infections, but results in needless deaths. This comparison of the difference in outcomes between Italy and South Korea puts it in black and white. It also matters in a few months, when we vote not just for candidates, but between freedom or an expanded inflexible incompetent bureaucracy (a la China, Iran, and several other countries). Seriously, use the interactive graphic to compare outcomes between those with robust systems and competition to those that are state monopolies. Interesting difference, no?

As for why those now braying that it is no worse than the flu are wrong, this is just one point but it is a good one. Those saying it’s just the flu are idiots on par with those claiming it doesn’t exist and those claiming we’re all gonna die. Ultimately, there is no real difference between them.

Is it going to get worse? Yes. The infection will spread. Potentially to millions of Citizens. What matters is the rate of spread. The more it is slowed down now, the better the outcomes on every level. The spread is not a failure on anyone’s part. The rate of spread, however, may well be a massive failure on the part of the bureaucracy if it is anything but slow.

Again, there is no need to panic. In some ways, it is worse than the flu, and in others (for others) it is not. What is needed is rational thought, rational preparedness and response, and just general rationality. To get the latter (or most any of the rest) turn off the media. Then, try turning on your brain. Read, study, listen, learn.

But, hey, don’t listen to me. I’ve only been a science writer (former journalist) for more than 30 years covering medical/biomedical research during much of that time; been involved with medical/biomedical research to varying degrees for more than 10 years; and earned my basic Military Emergency Management Systems certification and badge. Obviously, by the standards of the politico/media elite, I have no clue what I’m talking about.

If my posts are enjoyable, helpful, or otherwise a benefit, please consider hitting the tip jar. With the levels of stupid out there, really do need to up the strategic alcohol and tobacco reserves…

As always:

If you suspect you have COVID-19 or have been exposed: call your state health department and work with them so that you can be dealt with in a way that minimizes the chance of spreading the virus to those helping you and to the general public. Can’t get them? Call your local department or see if your health service has online/telemedicine screening set up; or see if one who has will let you use it even if you are not in their network. Do not go out in public, and don’t go to an ER or other facility without calling ahead. Be smart.

Use the interactive graphic to keep track of things. Is COVID19 an epidemic? Yes. Is it a Pandemic? Yes. Is there need for panic? NO. HELL NO. Should you be paying attention? Yes. Hell yes. Should you be preparing? Yes, better late than never. And good luck finding/getting stuff.

Want to avoid catching COVID19 here in the U.S.? Wash your flippin hands frequently, wash them thoroughly every time you use the bathroom, then follow with hand sanitizer after every washing, use hand sanitizer liberally when you can’t wash on a regular basis. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze, and stay away from those who don’t. Also, keep your bugger hooks out of/away from your eyes, nose, and mouth. Do NOT shake hands with anyone, and avoid touching or being touched by strangers. Or your strange friends.

Avoid travel if at all possible. Right now, there is no way I’m going to a trade show, major convention, etc. If you can telecommute, get that set up now. If you have to travel, use lots of hand sanitizer and go to full flu protocols. If you have to use a public restroom, take full precautions including using paper towels and such to handle faucets, doors,etc.  Believe it or not, this was highly recommended before now, and major grocery chains have long told employees to use those practices to avoid getting or spreading colds, flu, etc.  Not many actually do it, but…  

If you own a business, make sure your employees know the above protocols. Have someone who refuses to wash their hands or otherwise follow the protocols? Talk to them, write them up, and if necessary fire them as they now pose a risk of infection to you and your customers. Extreme? Yes, but while the CDC and others are working to slow it down, odds are it is already here and could hit hard and fast. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

I want to reiterate that there is no need for panic, but there is a strong need to be alert, be informed, and be prepared.

Other COVID19/COVID-19/2019-nCoV articles:

COVID-19 12Mar20

COVID-19 11Mar20

COVID-19 10Mar20

COVID-19 9Mar20 The Game Of Loads And Vectors

COVID-19 8Mar20


COVID-19 7Mar20 How To Do It Right If You Have/Have Been Exposed To COVID-19

COVID-19 6Mar20

COVID-19 5Mar20

COVID-19 4Mar20

COVID-19 3Mar20

COVID-19 What Am I Doing?

COVID-19 2Mar20

COVID-19 1Mar20

COVID-19 29Feb20

Quick Additional Thoughts On The Bureaucracy

Panic Is Off And Running

COVID-19 28Feb20 Reasons To Hope, Reasons To Fear

COVID-19 A Plea To The Politicians (And Media)

COVID-19 27Feb20

COVID-19 Breaking A Chain?

COVID-19 26Feb20

COVID19 The Situation In China Gets Even Weirder

COVID19 25Feb20

COVID19 24Feb20 Raising DEFCON

COVID19 23Feb20

COVID19 22Feb20

COVID19 21Feb20: Just Look At The Blooms Dear

COVID19 Update 20Feb20

COVID19 Update

Update & Quick Thoughts On Preparedness

Expansion On A Theme

Well Maybe I Was Wrong

Some Quick Thoughts On Coronavirus 2019-nCoV

Why Should You Be Prepared?

Keeping Alert

Coronavirus And Practical Preparedness