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Saturday, September 24, 2016

World Championships and World Champions Part 1

      Recently I went to the World Parachuting Championships in Ottawa, IL forty-eight countries were represented.  The last one I went to was in August 1972 in Tallequah, OK.  It doubled as a honeymoon having just got married. A lot has happened in the forty-four years since then.  There were sixty-eight countries at that event.  While I did not meet anybody that I could remember knowing back then, I did meet several people who were jumping at that time and we had many mutual friends.

    What I found interesting at the recent one was that almost the first people I ran into were parachute riggers.  That was my job when I was in the Army.  The sport has changed a lot since those days, but riggers are still a necessity to the sport.  Parachutes went from round to square for one thing.  The squares were just becoming popular when I quit jumping in 79 due to a back injury.  The views and attitudes however were pretty much the same as the last time I had an opportunity to have a multi-national conversation in France in 1974

                                                                                                                                                                  There was one major difference for me.  The last time I had such a conversation it evolved over a twenty hour period with about seven languages and fourteen nationalities involved in the conversation.  To carry on a conversation I would speak to the person from Spain who would speak to the Russian, who would speak to the Norwegian.  Then the answer would come back the same route.  Of course people hearing the conversation in their language would want to put in their two-bits, which is part of why the conversation took over twenty hours    

      At the end of the conversation we came to the conclusion that “we the people” of the world could get along.  We all wanted the same things, security for our families, a job, a home, an education, and being able to meet the needs of our families and loved ones.  We also came to the agreement that the problems of the world were created by the governments, not the people.  

     That conversation was over forty –two years ago.  My conversations this time were biased as I already knew what I wanted to ask and came away with one insight.  People from all over the world watch our elections and are just as upset with this election cycle as the Americans are and they, like many Americans, are not happy with either option we have for president. Also one thing that has not changed is that the governments are still the problem.

    Another insight I had is that it is a sport for skinny people.  There were very few people that looked over-weight.  When I left the sport I weighed in at 180 pounds.  After almost twenty years of trucking and eating where they had three all you can eat buffets a day I peaked out at just over 350 pounds.  I had lost 90 pounds by January 2004 when I had the big one.  It caused me to quit trucking and go on disability.  

      The reason I was losing the weight was  I wanted to start jumping again and the maximum weight for the equipment was 220 pounds.  After the heart attack and getting my defibrillator I gave up on the idea of jumping.  My logic was if I couldn’t drive, I couldn’t jump.  Then in November 2013 I got my Agent Orange compensation from the Army and went to Florida for a few weeks in January and February of 2014.                


                          The Canadaians

      That was when I met some really neat Canadians from the Ontario area.  In the course of our conversations my problem came up and they said they did not see it as a problem and knew people in Canada who jumped with defibs.  Over the next few weeks I discovered people in the USA did also.  When I got home I asked my doctor and he said he had no problem with it.  So now I am trying to lose weight again.  I found 40 of the pounds I originally lost over the eight years between the two events. The good news for me was they raised the weight limit for the equipment to 250 pounds.  So now all I have to do is lose 60 pounds.  It should be a piece of cake as I lost 90 the last time.   


The World Champion Golden Knights Four                      Way Women's Team 

   Almost half of the jumpers at the World Championships were females.  In the day, meaning back when I was jumping, there were hardly any female jumpers. I certainly don't remember any female "teams" Of course that might have been influenced by the fact that most of my experience was in the military. 

      One of the good things that happened to me was meeting John King.  Or as he calls himself “The King of Riggers” I originally met him at the U.S. Nationals in 2014 along with quite a few other riggers, of which almost half were females.

      John is a pretty awesome experience to meet and he has a very outgoing and happy personality. John has been in the sport a day or two and is originally from England. He started jumping in 1966 and has managed to accumulate over 5000 jumps.  He has jumped in 35 countries and about as many states.  He has visited or been in over 66 countries.  He is the self proclaimed head of the Black Death Packing Company and has packed over 50,000 parachute according to him, and has never lost a customer.  As he claims, "they have always found the bodies."  If you ask him he claims be a Nylon Compression Engineer.

     He encouraged me in my attempt to lose weight. I had the opportunity to introduce him to my great nephew who was with me.  He asked where we were parked and I said near the restroom.  My grandson said near the gym and John said, “That is a waste of time, because you ain’t gonna use it.”  I said, “That wasn’t nice” and he said. “Sometimes the truth hurts.” And as I had only lost ten pounds in the two years since I had seen him he was right.  That evening at supper I was convicted that he was right and when I got home I ate the only peanut butter and Jelly sandwich I have ever ate in my life, at least willingly.  At 70 I may have eaten some when I was younger, but not because I chose to.  I never liked peanut butter or baseball, which almost makes me un-American.  Thanks to John I am back on my diet and hopefully the next time I see him he will be able to “see” that I have lost some weight.

Every time I think of him I am reminded of the verse from John 3:8, he is definitely a free spirit who moves where his spirit guides him, and says what needs to be said.                                                     


If he is not a legend yet, he should be.

Father and daughter rigging team from Brazil

Two young ladies from Poland who we met at our motel the first morning.

It was nice to get almost adopted by the Russian Team and their families

Gamal from Qatar


Friday, September 9, 2016

Blessed to Death II

                                  Blessed To Death II

       Sometimes life can get really strange and at times it can even be a good kind of scary.  At almost seventy it has become my observation that when everything is going your way, things are about to change.  The thing that is hard to tell is how.  Last weekend part of my family came and spent the Labor Day weekend with us. It allowed me to spend time putting together a cabinet in my shop with my grandson Isaiah and my Great-Nephew Gabe. It was an enjoyable day for me as we had talked about doing it for some time and it had just never happened.  The blessings seemed to keep happening all week. Right after our youngest daughter passed away my wife and I were sitting on the front porch and butterflies started landing on us. At the time we did not have any butterfly bushes like we do now.  It gave us a lot of peace and still does when I think about it.

    Today I found out my twin Great-Grand-Daughters get to start the Headstart program next week.  My daughters went to it and I think it is an awesome program that gives kids boost when they start school.  Also their Mom got a promotion at work. Which means a pay raise.  I like the hours better.  It is getting old getting up at 4 AM to go take care of them.  Now I won't have to get up till 6 AM.

    Another neat thing is that for the first time in months I not only get three days off in a row.  My great-nephew and I get to go to Ottawa, Illinois to the World SkyDiving Championships.  Which is totally cool for me as I spent many years of my life involved in skydiving. The last time I went to one was in August of 1972 in Tahlaquah, OK and it sort of doubled as our honeymoon which was okay back then as we met because of my skydiving.

    Sunday will be the 15th anniversary of 9/11. Since then I have been technically dead and retired. I remember being in Bayonne, NJ that day and looking across the water and watching the smoke pouring from that building into the clear blue sky.  Wondering what kind of idiot runs into a building under those circumstances. In less than twenty minutes all of America found out what kind of an idiot would do that.

   Just this week I stumbled on something that made me wonder.  Anybody who has read my blog knows I am always looking at numbers and seeing how the Bible uses them. Sometimes they are used over and over. Fifteen years jumped out at me this week as I was reading and came across the story of Hezekiah.  He became king after his father Ahaz who worshipped pagan gods and idols. When Hezekiah became king he turned Israel's heart back to God.  God worked mightily on his behalf and he became sick and the Prophet Isaiah told him he was going to die,  The story has it he turned to the wall and prayed and God told Isaiah to go back and tell him he would get another fifteen years.  In the end he watched his sons go into the Babylonian captivity.  That was a great fall from where he was.

   It really moved me as I believe I was far more ready to die when I had my heart attack than I am now. I mean I don't mind the idea of dying, it just seems my heart was closer to God then than I am now.  Even though I still see him working on my behalf in ways that would take a book to explain. When I had my heart attack I wasn't ready for it, At least not financially, but the Lord sustained us through it all. I had to sell my truck and my equipment, but during the whole sixth months with no income till my disability started he sustained my family. That period lasted almost eight years, but it allowed me to be with my daughter during her seven year battle with her brain tumor.  Then a couple years later after she passed the Lord Blessed me. My income multiplied several times and made a major adjustment that I could see his hand in all of it.

    It is not my goal to scare anyone, but it would not hurt you to get a concordance and read the verses dealing with Hezekiah. Isaiah 36:1 to 39:8 and Jeremiah 15: 4 to 19 will give most of the story.  There is a little in IIChronicles 28:27 to 33:3 also.  You might read it though and come to your own conclusions on the matter.

    With the chaos in the present election cycle one has to wonder if God is getting ready to deal with America. Micah is another book that deals with things that were or are supposed to happen in the end time and much of it already has  Isaiah talks about the towers falling 30:25, but if you read from 23-26 you might get that it is in this day and age that cattle eat cleaned feed, that it is to come to pass. Isaiah has many verses that foretell of the coming of Christ.

  It is my prayer we all have a peaceful 15th anniversary and many more in the future,