Tuesday, August 31, 2004

My Dad died suddenly last Friday. I expect I will get back to blogging again when I am feeling more cheerful, but it will probably be fairly quiet here for a few weeks.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

If I have to visit many more sick family members I think I will scream. First my Dad, then Gavin and now Phil. How come I never get to be the one sitting in a hospital bed getting visitors and sympathy?

Monday, August 23, 2004

Not much gaming news lately. Although my last posting was slightly tongue in cheek, it is true that paragliding has taken over a bit.

Nevertheless, in spare moments I have been indulging in the guilty pleasure of playing Hornet Leader. Why guilty? Well, it's a solitaire game about the Americans bombing things - mostly Middle Eastern things - and I just don't feel very comfortable with that vision of the world these days. But all the same, this is a very fine game indeed, despite its early 90's vintage. I am playing the Iran campaign, and lost two, yes two, of my pilots on the first mission. That left me with a lot of victory points to make up in the remaining 5 missions, but I got off to a good start in mission 2.

You should see the prices that this little classic is fetching on eBay these days. No wonder.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Well after two amazing days I have come to the conclusion that paragliding is bloody dangerous. After about 20 flights dodging trees and fences, and featuring alarmingly hard contacts with the ground, I am convinced of this fact. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise. But I am worryingly unworried about it. The incredible, dreamlike sensation of being airborne, inhabiting the breathing silence of the air like a bird, seems to be worth all. In fact, is there anything I would not sacrifice to this new addiction? Safety, life and limb? What good are they if I cannot fly? Money? A useless incumbrance unless spent on flying gear. My job and my home? If they are too far from the best flying sites then I will happily trade them in. Sunday worship? Well, gosh, it depends on the weather. The love of a good woman? If she is likely (as most are) to demand at some point "It's that hobby or me?", then I suppose I'll continue to live alone. My boardgames collection? Well.... you've got me there. But they may be seeing a bit less use than they used to....

Friday, August 13, 2004

Thursday 12th August 2004, about 9:30pm, at the Fox in the Bourne, Farnham: the end of a 20-year epoch.

Part of my evil strategy for keeping the boys cowed and submissive was always to play them at games but never let them win. Especially chess. Finally, after 20 years of chess humiliation, Phil has beaten me. Not just beaten me, thrashed me. I tried to warn him about the taboo against killing your own father, and to remember Oedipus, but all to no avail. It's over.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Not so much time then for gaming these days, but I still managed to fit in an epic game of Europe Engulfed with Dave last weekend. We started the 1942 scenario on Friday night, and continued through Saturday. The previous time that we played (at Hay-on-Wye) when my Allies heavily defeated Dave's Axis, Dave was heard to grumble that he didn't see how the Germans could have done any better. So it was very satisfying to take the Axis last weekend and soundly beat him again. Case proven I think - this scenario is balanced!

I kicked off in turn one with a successful grab of the Onega swamps. This of course choked off the flow of lend-lease to Russia, and prompted Dave to switch to a West-first strategy. Denmark was invaded before the close of 1942, but Dave never managed to clear it, and before the end of the game, after many turns of costly conflict, I was able to destroy his beachhead for a victory point. He also came ashore at Calais and later Normandy, but in spite of building fleet points nearly every turn he was hampered by the double supply cost of his Denmark force. In the East I was able to ride out the winter storms and managed to avoid a replay of Stalingrad.

It was really great fun for both of us, and I can't recommend Europe Engulfed highly enough to anyone who is at all interested in wargames.
I've been spending a lot of my free time paragliding just lately - well, not paragliding exactly, more like sitting around in a field under a baking sun, waiting for wind conditions to improve enough to make an actual flight possible. Sigh. Yes, it's a long process, I've actually spent 5 days up at Green Dragons paragliding school now, but have only actually completed about 3 days-worth of training. And several other days were booked only to call in at 7am and find the weather was not right. So - I'm a little discouraged I suppose, but still very motivated to continue, and with luck I hope to complete my Club Pilot before the summer is over.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

I've never been to a blogmeet before, but here's one that might tempt me - the Greenbelt Bloggers Gathering.

Monday, August 02, 2004

I've just had an amazing and challenging couple of days at Green Dragons paragliding school. Today especially. The wind conditions were very light, meaning that I hardly got off the ground this week. Potentially a complete washout. But this morning a brilliant instructor called Steve gave me a museum piece to play with - an ancient square paraglider from the early days of the sport. He got me practising reverse launches with this thing, and the simple and forgiving nature of the wing allowed me to really build up confidence. In the afternoon I continued ground-handling practice with a couple of more modern paragliders - ADG Havanes - and found I was getting really confident keeping the wing under control. All I need now is to get back in the air again and my happiness will be complete.

There is something dreamlike about this whole business of learning to fly paragliders. It still seems like an impossible dream - because of the weather conditions I have hardly left the ground so far. But today I really began to realize that I am learning the skills that will very soon make it possible for me to fly properly. There's a combination of fear and intense longing sitting at the bottom of my stomach this evening. I feel like I'm at the threshold of something I have wanted for so long, but never really believed was possible for me......