Wednesday, July 31
Well I just got the second report off using
Toly's mobile phone 'Net connection, which
advertises itself as 115k on the task bar but acts
more like 5k. Way too slow to check any web pages,
besides yahoo.com off course. So, T2, please e-mail
me short versions of what's going on in the world.
Also, if anyone sends me an e-mail, no attachments
please, I can't open 'em.
Yesterday at 5:30 we were abruptly herded into
buses and driven to a sports center in downtown
Stupino for an genuine (always pronounced "jen-yoo-eyen")
opening ceremony. Must not be much to do in Stupino
on a Tuesday evening, there must have been a couple
thousand people in the stands. Airspeed did one of
their patented team landings; they and the Swiss and
the Russian Evolution were the only teams to jump
From the ceremony, I rode in one of the Russian
judge's car to the hotel, and stopped at a BP
station (yup - British Petroleum) that had a modern
convenience store that recognized a Visa card and
how to use it. I bought a couple of bottles of
recommended souvenir vodka and a large bottle of
water. We got lost on the way to the hotel, but got
to see more of the Russian countryside.
Round 2 is beginning. To finish round 1, DeLand
Majik, making their first jump in Russia, did a
clean 21, the Danes busted a 13 down to 11.
12pm -- about to break for lunch and in round 2,
Airspeed looked rocky with a 22 while Majik
downright rocked with a 25. One point lead for Majik
after two! Where's my pickled tomatoes?
1pm -- lunch is always the same, a buffet
consisting of an array of pickled veggies (lots of
cucumbers, diced 'maters, cheese, olives, eggplant),
with sliced ham and diced mystery meats on the side.
1:30pm -- Airspeed just got a 22 on round 3 to
Majik's 21 -- a tie ballgame after three innings.
It's already clear that these two teams are very
evenly matched and the Nationals in September will
be a helluva meet to miss. The pace is very good
today, barely 90 minutes between jumps for most
7pm -- Halfway through round 6 (and the ballgame
is tied again after 5 innings). I hear the plan is
to do only two rounds tomorrow, then take a whole
day off Friday, then do semifinal & final rounds on
Saturday. Perhaps a Moscow tour on Friday? That
would be cool.
btw between typing notes here, I spend my time
alternating very regularly among reading a David
Baldacci novel, playing Spider Solitaire, wandering
to the Big Blue Building to watch the top teams get
judged, sneaking coffee from the judge's room,
watching the Russian girls, and wondering how the
D'backs are doing. I'd type more, but I'm trying to
take as much of a break as I can from keyboards &
computers. So there. No flames about lack of more or
the laptop gets roof tested!
As soon as round 6 is in the can, I'm going to
hook my laptop up to the scoring network, download
the competition data, and get ready to head to town
for what I hear is a higher speed 'Net connection.
It would be nice to catch up some news. The two
television channels are all Russian of course, and
there are no English language newspapers or
magazines anywhere to be found. No wonder the
natives are so in awe of all these foreigners --
they hardly knew there was an outside world before.
It makes the noodle boggle!
And now they're judging the last of round 6.
Airspeed did a 23 and Majik does a ... come on
judges, roll the tape! ... (as soon as this is done,
I'm grabbing the data from the competition laptop
and getting this e-mail off so T2 has Real Results
to post) ... Graham Harding is doing video for Majik
here ... here we go ... 22!
And off we go --
Thursday, August 1st
The stuff I've written so far has been pretty haphazard,
interrupted by Nescafe refills and fly slappings, so I don't
recall what I've said about the organization here. In short,
the organizers have done an excellent job in most aspects,
and nothing less than a good job in everything. I have heard
no complaints from any competitors (although that may have
been because of limited expectations). The host put a lot of
money and last-minute work into the DZ (and they're still
working on it), from the big packing and spectator hangar
(that's not really a hangar, like Eloy's), the best creeping
pad I ever saw, a nice restaurant/lounge with a big, big
outdoor deck, fresh concrete walkways, benches everywhere,
and freshly planted grass imported from Holland that grows
very fast and green. The judging/admin building is very
adequate and has everything except air conditioning (but I
have yet to see any A/C anywhere outside a modern imported
car). This meet clearly means a lot to the Russians, and
they're making every possible effort and more to make sure
it's recorded as a top-notch Category 1 competition. And
right now, they will have to screw up for that not to
happen. Exi (Hoenle, the IPC controller) and BJ (Worth, IPC
president and for this meet, jury president, and for that
matter, the entire jury) have had nothing but glowing things
to say about the level of effort.
My only complaint: the flies! Get rid of the damn
Toly's here, e-mail time! I'll have rounds 7 & 8 posted
after lunch --
11:30am, round 7 is wrapping up. This is a fast one, four
randoms and bipole-bipole. Airspeed did a 26, they had a
couple of glitches, while Majik looked solid with a 29,
though the judges (enough of them anyway) gave them the
bipole on the freeze-frame where I wouldn't have. Going into
round 8, a two point lead for Majik, and the seesaw sees and
saws. So far there have been four lead changes, and only one
round in which both teams tied. They're now talking about
doing the semifinal round (9) today, based on weather
forecasts. Of course, I've always been a proponent of
jumping as fast as the weather allows! You never know what
might happen, not just the weather.
So the plan for OmniSkore is for it to go with Klaus to
Germany where I will meet him on the 10th, in Gransee
(northeast of Berlin). After the German Cup (it's not really
a nationals), the system will go with Klaus back to Stupino
for the Russian Nationals, then back to Germany again, where
he'll ship it back to me in time for me to haul what's left
of it to Illinois for our Nationals.
I hear Craig (on Airspeed) is not feeling well today. He
must have the same thing that's crept into my plumbing...
1:15pm ... Stein"way" is about to dub round 8 ... a tough
round to engineer ... they get a 22 ... up steps Graham ...
and Majik falls just short of getting #22 in working time,
and goes into the semifinal round with a one point
advantage. Ladies and Germs, don't go away!!!
(And I've just been informed we are doing semi-finals
today... after lunch ... so stay in that chair right there
... and in round 9, Airspeed busts a 21 down to a 19, and
Majik, after a bumpy exit, smokes a beautiful 24 on a tough
skydive! Majik arrived here tired, ragged & harried, but are
skydiving very impressively.
Beer light's on. Probably no report tomorrow, so tune in
Saturday for the finals!
High Noon, Saturday August 3d
Wow. That's the word that repeats itself in my head when
I recall the last 12 hours.
After spending an hour in the Internet cafe in downtown
Moscow last night (a block from the Red Square), we (myself,
Alya, Joey (Jones) and Solly (Williams, both of Majik, and a
"Carson" (I think) from the Danish team) decided to at least
try to find a sushi restaurant in town, and if we couldn't
find sushi, something nice, with some wine. Besides having a
nice meal, we wanted to kill a couple of hours before
tackling the Friday night rush hour of Muscovites heading to
the country for the weekend. Alya suggested we search around
by foot, since driving around Moscow and finding parking was
such a challenge. We made it less than five paces before
Joey spotted a sushi bar directly across the street. Hmm, I
wonder how many of these there are in Moscow?
We took the pedestrian tunnel under the street and took
the stairs (past a "Security Guard", typed with sideways
winks) down to the restaurant, and boy were we pleasantly
surprised. It wasn't real crowded (yet), so we filled up
five seats at the sushi bar, which was shaped like a fish's
body (w/o the fins) and had a half dozen chefs (most of them
Japanese) cutting fish. The bar featured a prepared sushi
"conveyer" system common in Japan's sushi restaurant, where
you take what you want as it travels around the bar, and
stack the color-coded plates in front of you which determine
the final bill. Last night, it was white plates = 90 rubles,
yellow = 120, red = 150, blue = 170, and black = 190 (about
30 rubles to the dollar). Fortunately, the salmon sushi was
on the white plates!
Anyway, this "conveyer" system was not like the
mechanical ones I'd seen before. The bar had a genuine moat,
and the sushi was placed on small wooden boats that lapped
around the moat, connected by a tiny, almost invisible wire
to keep them spaced about 10 inches apart. I'd have taken a
picture, but my camera ran out of gas while I was stomping
around the Kremlin.
Ninety minutes later the final bill for five people came
in at 4200 rubles, not cheap but not bad either, we ate
quite a bit (and I had sake, of course). Then, we hit the
road back south to Stupino.
Moscow officially has a population of about 11 million,
unofficially about 15. On Friday nights, every last one of
them does what they have to do to find and get in a car that
is heading in any of the directions out of town. And south
was a very popular direction last night.
I've never seen anything like it. Most Muscovites can't
yet afford nice cars, so the ones they do have (not being
worth what we're used to) drive them with reckless abandon
(after all, it's just a mechanical horse that's not going to
kick or bite back). Most of the highway after we got past
the edge of Moscow was typical 3-lane country highway, where
the center lane (when there was one) was marked for making
left turns and occasionally a passing lane. Only last night,
the southbound traffic used the center/left-turn lane as an
express lane. But wait, there's more! They also used the
northbound lane, full bore. If you had to head north to
Moscow, you were s*** out of luck! Oh, I know what you're
thinking, just drive north on the shoulder of the road.
Well, you couldn't do that either, 'cause people with the
right kinds of cars were using _both_ shoulders for
southbound traffic. Joey & Solly & I couldn't believe what
we were seeing. A 2 or 3-lane highway, with five lanes of
southbound traffic. We passed numerous accidents, about one
every couple of miles. Never saw a cop, ambulance or other
emergency vehicle. Most people involved in fender-benders
just put it back in gear and keep on going. What else are
you going to do? was the explanation. Brave Alya, charged
her little ol' Audi through that mess like a champ.
Poor Joey and Solly. They had the adventure to end all
adventures just getting from London to Moscow. If any of you
remember the scrapes I went through to get a visa to Russia
when I was in London a few years ago, that was like a
weekend in Kauai compared to what Joey & Solly went through
getting their airline tickets and visas (if and when I get
the time, I'll try to retell it here, but it's quite
unbelievable that those two ever made it to Moscow). Anyway
on the 29th when they arrived in Moscow at 8pm, they waited
for the Danes to arrive at 10pm so all could ride to Stupino
together. Naturally, the Danes arrived at midnight.
Naturally, they arrived without any luggage (the conveyer
system broke at the airport in Copenhagen). After taking
more than 2 hours getting through passport control and
sorting out that there was no luggage, they finally hit the
road around 3am. Joey & Solly crashed hard asleep in the
back of the van, which cruised at 130kpm (about 75).
An hour after getting on the highway that first night,
Joey & Solly were awakened by a loud thump and horrible
screeching, and their van spun out and stopped, but somehow
did not flip over. Later they figured out why. The driver
had hit a large tire sitting in the center of the lane, and
lacking the time to get out of the way, did his best to
high-center the tire. It lodged under the van's axle, which
gave it a pivot point, and lifted the back tires enough to
make their brakes ineffective, so when the driver hit the
brake pedal, the front brakes caused the van to spin around,
fortunately on its new pivot point. J&S were tossed around a
bit and scared witless, but survived to tell the tale. They
made it to the hotel at 5am, just a few hours before the
official competition was to start.
So during last night's journey, they were very nervous in
the back seat. Every time Alya hit the breaks from someone
cutting her off, I thought they were going to jump out of
their own skins! And here they are now, a five point lead
with one round to go in a Category 1 competition that has a
five-figure cash prize. That's one way to earn it!
I got settled into bed last night about half past
midnight, but it was not a pleasant evening. A platoon of
sewer rats has infested my plumbing and they are partying
hard. I had to visit the LBR more than a few times, and the
only thing I could get down for breakfast was a small piece
of bread with some butter and caviar.
The schedule for today didn't have us going to the drop
zone until noon, so I took the time after
bra-bra-bra-breakfast to lay down and relax. When I got to
the DZ, ... wow. None of us were here yesterday of course,
and we found out why. They had set up a band stand with a
huge video screen and rock concert sound system. As of
12:30, there were 3000+ plus Russian spectators here
listening to live pop music, drinking beer and lounging
around. You'll just have to see the photos!
1:40pm -- all done but one team. Airspeed did a fast 25
but got zapped for an incomplete phalanx which resulted in
an incomplete separation to the next point, so they had to
settle for a 21. Majik is being judged now ... these guys
are very impressive, only about 500 jumps as a team and
looking like 5000 ... and Majik posts a clean 25 to win by
double digits. Congratulations Majik! What a way to finish
2:30pm -- The equipment is torn down, OmniSkore packed.
The closing ceremonies are at 3:45. As soon as one of the
translators is done with the tandem jump the judges bought
for him (he's a 26-y/o Russian Army captain named Abu), Alya
is driving me and Judy to Stupino to look for medicine,
gifts and a lost debit card. Hopefully, at some point, Toly
(who's only been visible as an occasional blur today) will
show up with his laptop and mobile phone and I can get this
off and the final results to T2.
They've _really_ got the music cranked up on that sound
system out there! I'm in the judging building 150 meters
away and I NEED EARPLUGS IN HERE (sorry, didn't mean to
Okay Toly's here with his stuff. Home in two days --