The Das Avonni
Story circa August 1st, 2002 | View Post


The wooden frame of the Das Avonni
To anyone not familiar with disc golf, it is more or less the hippie form of playing golf. Basically you go to a disc golf park with some friends, start at the tee, and throw your disc towards the basket. The discs are not exactly Frisbees as they tend to be made out of thicker plastics and are consequently always much heavier than regular Frisbees. Just like golf, you see where your disc lands, go to it, and throw it again. There are about 18 disc golf parks in the greater Austin area and I have played around 7 of them. To date I have no hole-in-ones, but I have been pretty close and have made a few birdies. As you can probably tell, the game is scored just like golf, and scores are typically in the same range as a normal golf game.

Building the Das Avonni

The only drawback to disc golf is that it's pretty hard to practice it without actually going out to a course. At least in golf you can purchase a small hole for your backyard for practice putting and chipping. Disc golfing companies have offered a similar product for the sport though it is obviously much larger and expensive. Because of that, I decided to build my own.

All it took was a metal pole, some ply wood, a bunch of wooden dowel rods, and some spray paint and waterproof cloths for the aesthetic.
The first part of the project simply consisted of cutting a circular top on the band saw. This was probably the hardest part of the whole thing though it turned out just fine. After this, I created the box bottom and used the drill press to make a few dozen holes around the base in which to fit the wooden dowel rods. Atop the dowel rods were narrow strips of plywood, simply to hold the dowel rods together. The entire apparatus had 1.5" holes drilled through it's center pieces in order to fit the metal pipe into it.

Finishing Touches


The finished Das Avonni sitting outside in front of my Explorer
Once the initial design was completed, and as you can see by the pictures, I hung chains from the top which ultimately ran together to form a three-dimensional parabolic shape to the basket (as is pretty standard with the disc golf baskets). In addition, 4 extra chains were strung along the Z-Axis of the paraboloid to aid in slowing down the disc once it hit the chains. All in all, the chains still proved a bit too thin for the project, but it was not that often that a disc would fly through them without stopping.

Once these chains were attached, I bored a 1/4" hole through both the top and bottom portions of the metal pole which allowed me to add lock bolts to the apparatus, thus securing the basket to the pole.

With that in place, I decided to add a bit of feel to the basket and with cans of red and yellow spray paint available in the garage, I painted the bottom portion of the basket red, and the top part of the Das Avonni yellow. Finally, the cloths that were added were actually disposable rain slickers. The material was perfect for this project as it easily stretched to my liking and was very easy to staple-gun it to the painted plywood.

Naming the Das Avonni

Anyone who is rather keen with the small disc golf world may have already picked up on where this thing got its name from. One of the leading manufacturers of disc golf products is a company named Innova (I believe pronounced in'-uh-va). Avonni is simply Innova spelled backwards. Perhaps this helps: innovA. The Das part just came from my usual game of adding such the word to a noun and pawning it off as a German influenced design.

What happened to Das Avonni?

After I had the Das Avonni in my front yard for a couple of days, I decided that I would give it to a few of my good friends (then roommates of one another), Mike Crockett, and Dreux LaViolette. I brought it over to their house and we dug a hole in the ground in which to mount it. From what I understand, the Avonni was used from time to time in the backyard until they both moved into seperate homes and then I think it was either left there or ultimately dismantled and thrown away. ...a sad fate indeed.

Can I get my own Das Avonni?

Yes. The units sell for $2000 each (or $25,000 for an 18-hole course) and can be hand crafted and delivered to you within 7 business days. We require that the monies be transferred into an escrow account before any construction begins. If you'd like one, contact me.

The Applejuice Pregnancy
Story circa May 4th, 2002 | View Post

Tisa and I had been dating for about 4 months when she signed up to participate in a clinical study for wisdom tooth removal. Basically it was one of those deals whereby they pay for all of your expenses in exchange for you testing out new post-operative pain medications. Of course you always run the risk of being in the placebo group or having the medicine not work (or worse, work adversely), but of course the cost of not having to pay for wisdom tooth removal makes it highly worthwhile.

Anyway, I woke up very early one Saturday morning so that I could take Tisa to the clinic around 38th street and Kerbey Lane so that she could get on with the procedure. It was probably around 6:30 in the morning that I dropped her off. I drove back home, got into bed, and quickly fell asleep. It probably wasn't more than forty minutes later that I was awoken by my phone. It was Tisa and she needed me to come and pick her up at the clinic. I asked her what was wrong and she said we would talk about it later.

I was very concerned at this point, and worse was that I was exhausted and had a summer school final to take later in the afternoon.

I went and picked her up at the clinic and as we started to drive home, I asked her what had gone wrong. She told me she had failed the obligatory pregnancy test that they give everyone. Naturally my heart stopped beating. I'm not sure how long it took to resume normal function.

After some brief period of time, she exclaimed to me that she was not pregnant. At least not that she knew of. I was utterly confused.

A couple of weeks prior, Tisa had been out with some of her friends and at some point a little pot-smoking may have occurred. The clinical studies are very specific in that you can't have any type of prior drug intake to participate. Of course most rational people recognize that smoking pot weeks earlier is not going to alter the chemistry of a pain narcotic weeks after the fact, but that's how they operate.

Evidently when Tisa went into the bathroom to fill her urine sample for both a pregnancy AND drug test, there was a bottle of apple juice sitting atop the toilet. Although we argued about it quite extensively, I contended it was just accidentally left there by someone else, but she swore that it was specifically there so that people had "something else to use". Whatever the case, she did in fact use the apple juice. She mixed some of the apple juice with warm water and turned that into the doctor for her test.

So the punchline to this entire story is that I have no idea how this happened, why it happened, or if it is in any way scientifically relevant, but evidently a watered down apple juice can alter the chemistry of a clinical pregnancy test to show a false positive.

The Monte Montgomery Guitar
Story circa April 12th, 2002 | View Post

When Tisa and I had only been dating for about 2 or 3 months, I wanted to get her a cool present for her upcoming birthday on the 16th of April. She and I were frequently going to see Monte Montgomery play at the local bars in Austin and she had made some mention to me that she would like to learn to play the guitar. My idea was then to buy her a relatively inexpensive acoustic guitar and have Monte sign it for her.

Getting the Guitar

About a week earlier to this particular trip, I went onto eBay and found a red Johnson 6 string acoustic for about $150.00 or so. There was an available 'Buy it Now' option and since I didn't have much time, I went ahead and did it. For whatever reason, my eBay account was giving me trouble, so I actually had Dave Guezuraga, my roommate at the time, purchase the guitar for me. I quickly reimbursed him for it - and he got the star on his eBay account.

Contacting Monte

I went on to Monte's website and found an email address that I figured I could use to contact his people regarding having the guitar signed. A day or two went by and I still had not heard back from them. Getting slightly anxious about this, I decided that if I did not hear back from them, I would just have to go to one of Monte's concerts and have him sign it, I figured he couldn't turn me down. The only problem was that his only upcoming concert was in Dallas on the 5th of April, 2002, and that was going to be a bit of a drive on my part.

My Letter to Monte Montgomery

From: "Kevin Ludlow" <ludlow@mail.utexas.edu>
To: <monteray@satx.rr.com>
Sent: Monday, April 01, 2002 2:53 PM
Subject: upcoming show - with a question

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am hoping that this letter can find its way to Monte Montgomery as this was the only email address that I could find on the website. So:

Monte,

My name is Kevin Ludlow and I live in Austin - where I do get to see your shows from time to time. I try to go whenever possible because, while I'm sure you can do without more flattering from people, your music is incredible and your guitar method is something I've never seen before. To the point, I have a small favor that I would like to ask of you. I have been playing guitar for quite some time and my girlfriend has been wanting me to teach her. For her upcoming birthday, this April 16, I have bought her a pretty inexpensive, but nice, practice guitar so she has something to learn on. Unfortuantly I couldnt afford anything too grand. My favor to ask is if you could sign/personalize the guitar. I'm sure that you have lots of number one fans, but I would say that she is definately one of them and I think she would cherish the very thought of you signing it. Also, I would hope it would inspire her to learn to play, as she admires your guitar playing a great deal.

If this is at all possible, I would happily pay you for the trouble or do whatever necessary to make it possible. I might not normally go through such a length do to something, but she is definately worth that and much more, to me anyways. I understand that you have a show coming up in Dallas on the 5th, and I happily would drive up to Dallas. I'd love to see the show, and perhaps I could see you afterwards? I am just hoping that the guitar gets here before then, as I ordered it online. So - it would mean a great deal to me and I guarantee her too if you could do this. I hope to hear from you - and email is great - but my cell is 512:xxx-xxxx.

Thank you so much for your time,
Kevin Ludlow

Getting the Signature


The signed guitar sitting in my living room
I asked my good friend Preston Graham if he would like to join me in going to a concert in Dallas, and of course explained why I needed to go up there. Being the great guy that he is, he happily agreed to go with me. So, around 4pm on the 5th, I picked him up in my truck and we drove the 3 or so hours up North to Dallas. I guess we got there a bit too early for nightlife but it allowed me to get a spot directly in front of the club where Monte was playing that night, The Gypsy Tea Room.

With some time to kill, Preston and I walked across the street from the club and had a beer or two at another bar. Afterwards, we proceeded to walk back over to the club and wait in line. We were there for about 10 minutes or so when Tisa called me on my cell. There was clearly a loud ruckus from the people standing around and I had to make up some story about me being out with some friends or the like. I didn't want her to know that I was in Dallas going to a concert. I think it was a fair white lie.

When we finally got inside of the Gypsy Tea Room, the opening band was just about to go on. Preston and I had a few more beers and were just sitting around talking when I happened to notice Monte up at the bar. I quickly ran up to him and explained to him that I had just bought my girlfriend an acoustic guitar and would appreciate it if he could sign it. He told me no problem and that he would do it after the show. This was a relief, though now we had to sit through the entire show. Not that I didn't want to see Monte play or anything like that, but he wasn't going on until around 11pm or so and we still had to drive back to Austin.

Needless to say, we watched the entire show, drank some beers, and all in all, had a great time. As soon as the show was over, I asked Monte once more just to confirm and he told me to go and get the guitar from my car. I brought it back to him and he was more than happy to sign it personally to Tisa. He asked me what I wanted it to read and I told him just to write whatever he wanted, so long as it was addressed to Tisa. He didn't argue and signed it "To Tisa: Peace and Love - Monte Montgomery".

Preston and I left the Tea Room sometime around 2:30-3:00am and of course still had a 3 hour drive ahead of us. It was more than exhausting and I think Preston tried to stay awake with me as long as possible but eventually fell asleep in the car. We got home some time around 6am.

My Response from Monte Montgomery

Even though I managed to get the guitar signed, it took awhile for that email that I originally wrote to get back to me. The return letter actually came from Monte's manager, Ray Rodriguez, but apparently he actually spoke with Monte regarding the guitar. Thankfully, it wasn't of much concern by this time. Here is the email that was sent back to me regarding the guitar being signed:

From ???@??? Sun Apr 14 11:45:59 2002
From: "RayRod" <monteray@satx.rr.com>
To: "Kevin Ludlow" <ludlow@mail.utexas.edu>
Subject: Re: upcoming show - with a question
Date: Sun, 14 Apr 2002 10:45:35 -0500

Kevin,

Sorry for the late reply. I spoke to Monte about this and he'd be glad to sign the guitar. So, bring it to any one of his shows and just ask him to sign it!

Best Regards,
Ray Rodriguez
Manager, Monte Montgomery
Monte-Ray Enterprises
www.montemontgomery.com

Giving the Guitar to Tisa

I had to hold onto the guitar for 10 solid days without letting her know anything about it, much less that I had just been to Dallas the night before and gone to a Monte concert. On her birthday, she came over after going out with one of her friends and I was anxious to give her the guitar. I presented it to her and of course she was incredibly excited that I had given her a guitar in the first place. The funny thing was, she thought that I had signed it. I explained to her that it was personally signed by Monte Montgomery just for her. I had to explain the entire story but I think she was more than amazed with the effort made.

ardoty@yahoo.com

Wow! That is so cool! I can't believe you went to all that trouble. But, I can see you had a good time doing it. I am a huge M.M. fan, and have driven between Dallas and Austin to see gigs, myself. Tisa'a a lucky girl.
zorgux@caramail.com

bonjour, je cherche la tablature de romeo and juliet par monte montgomery. Pourriez vous m' écrire pour savoir si vous l' aviez et si possible pourriez vous me l envoyer a mon adresse mail. je vous remercie a bientot
Interview With Catherine "Kitty" Ludlow
December 27th, 2001 | View Post


Catherine Ludlow during her interview.
On December 27th, 2001 I conducted a brief interview with both of my grandparents (father's side), Catherine "Kitty" Ludlow and Howard T. Ludlow, known as Momma and Poppa respectively. This is the interview with Catherine.

The total recorded interview is 7 minutes, 49 seconds long. I have transcribed the interview below and included applicable links detailing certain events and locations that my grandmother described (namely using Wikipedia, IMDB, and Dictionary.com).

SETTING UP THE INTERVIEW - CATHERINE IS TAKING HER SEAT.
Kevin: Okay, you heard all the questions that he got asked?
Catherine: Yes, I don't remember them though.
Kevin: You forgot them all?
Catherine: No I didn't forget them all.
Howard: She's cheating.
Catherine: No.
Kevin: So you don't remember any of them?
Catherine: Yes I do.


CATHERINE BEGINS THE INTERVIEW HERSELF.
Catherine: I was born in the Bronx. And I lived in the Bronx most of my grown-up life, as far as that's concerned. My father worked in a bakery and my mother was at home. And I have, or had, a sister and two brothers.
Kevin: See, you remember the questions.
Catherine: Yes I do.
Kevin: What year were you born in the Bronx?
Catherine: 1925.
Kevin: What year was he born in the Bronx?
Catherine: 1921, right?
Howard: Yea, I was born in '21.
Catherine: And I went to public school because my mother was Catholic but my father was Protestant so he couldn't let us go to any Catholic school, in fact he was a very anti-Catholic person for a long time. He changed when he got older. And um, I went to P.S. 46 in the Bronx and I graduated from there. And when I was in 8th grade they had a Hunter College, which was a college in New York, had also a high school called it Hunter College High School, but you had to take a test to get in. And so, a teacher said to me, well you did pretty well, take the test. And I passed. And I went into the highschool. And when you graduated from Hunter College High School, you automatically were eligible to go to Hunter College. And uh, so I did well and I graduated from Hunter College 'cause otherwise I wouldn't have been able to go, my parents didn't have any money really. And the tuition at that time, I'm pretty sure I'm right but I might be wrong, was like $45 a semester. So it was not bad at all. So I went there for umm, I guess it was two years or so, two and a half years, and then it was the time around the war, 1945, and I decided I would join the WACs. And I did.
Kevin: What is the WACs?
Catherine: "Woman's Army Corps". And um, I was sent to, with a group, to Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. Well I was 20 at the time, so that's why I was able to do it. My parent's didn't want me to do it, but I, I was a very disobedient child. You know how that is.
[LAUGHING]
Kevin: I've read about it.
Catherine: And so I wanted to go, and I did. And we went do to Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. And that's where we took our training. And then when we finished down there, uh we were sent to different places and I went to Thomas M. England general hospital. It was a big hotel and they turned it into a hospital during the war. So that's where I was and I worked as a medic, a technician. You know, bringing um, refreshments, making beds, and stuff like that. And umm, I was in for about almost 2 years when the war ended, less than two years, because the war then ended. So, you could stay in, but they were going to send you overseas for two more years. And uh, I didn't want to do that, so I got out and I went back to college. And then I started to work; I had a number of jobs and stuff like that. And then um. then I met, I met Howard. Oh we joined the American Legion, I was in the American Legion. And I met him, I knew him, and he came up to me one evening, uh, before the meeting started and he said, I'd like to ask you a question. So I said, ok, go ahead ask. He said, I was in a post, it was all female post, it was a Joan of Arc post, and our commander was a very cute little blonde, her name was Sophie. And that's what he came up to ask me, if I thought Sophie would go out with him. But I said to him, I know that she won't because she has a husband who is very jealous and he won't like it.
[LAUGHING]
Catherine: So he said, well, thank you very much, then he went and sat down. That was before the meeting. After the meeting was over he came over and he said to me, I really shouldn't have asked you that, and it really wasn't very nice. And he told me the situation. He had just broken up with a girl, and he had a formal coming up. He belonged to this group, that um, it was um, the Naval Cadets, that's what it was called. It's for like boys and everything to train them. Well I had just broken up with somebody too. So anyway I said, no I'd be glad to go with you.

And that's how we started to go out together. And um, so then we got married in uh, June 28th uhh, 1950, was it 1952 that we got married?

Howard: Could be.
[LAUGHING]
Catherine: And um, then the next year we had a baby, but the baby died. I was only 7 months and the baby died. So then, then we had Maureen, and then we had Howard - your father, and then we had Frank. We had three of them. And, we lived in New Jersey. We had a small house, real small, but we had never lived in a house before, we lived in an apartment. And I used to tell everybody we have a big house, and of course when people would come to see it, they would realize it wasn't a big house. But, after about half a dozen or so years we moved to a bigger house, much bigger house. And we stayed there. And then of course the kids, everybody grew up and got married and left, and then we, they said, it was the three kids that, you can't stay here up in the north, it's too cold and stuff like that. So we, Howard retired, I retired, and, so then we moved down where we are right now. And that's kind of up to date.
[LAUGHING]
Kevin: That was pretty precise.
Catherine: Ok?
Kevin: That was pretty full. Any other good stories for my interview?
Catherine: Well, I don't know. Your father was a wild and wooly one. But...
Kevin: And he had a motorcycle?
Catherine: Oh yes, he had a motorcycle. He had, he had a motorcycle, which I didn't want him to have.
Kevin: But he had one anyways?
Catherine: He had one anyway, yea.
Kevin: Sounds about right.
Catherine: But all three of them turned out really well, and they're doing really well and... Then, once he met your mother he kind of straight, straightened out.
Kevin: That's how the story goes.
Catherine: Yea. She was um, very, uh what do you call it?
Kevin: Proper.
Catherine: Proper influence, well yea she was a good influence on him. And he's really done very well.
Kevin: Well, that's good.
Catherine: And I like, all three of them, I like all of their, umm, I like Maureen's husband, and I like Howie's wife, and of course I like your father's wife too, far as that's concerned. It's been, very very happy, a very very happy life as far as that's concerned.
Kevin: That's good.
Catherine: Ok.
Kevin: Good job.
Catherine: I hope so.
Interview With Howard Ludlow Sr.
December 27th, 2001 | View Post


Howard Ludlow during his interview
On December 27th, 2001 I conducted a brief interview with both of my grandparents (father's side), Catherine "Kitty" Ludlow and Howard T. Ludlow, known as Momma and Poppa respectively. This is the interview with Howard.

The total recorded interview is almost 18 minutes long. I have transcribed the interview below and included applicable links detailing certain events and locations that my grandfather described (namely using Wikipedia, IMDB, and Dictionary.com).

SETTING UP THE INTERVIEW - HOWARD IS TAKING HIS SEAT.
Howard: Did you want honest answers and stuff?
Kevin: That would be helpful.
Howard: I can make them up too if you wish.
Catherine: Do you want me to get the cane?
Howard: No, I'll put the cane over here. That's ok.
[HOWARD IS SEATED FOR THE INTERVIEW]
Howard: Now I can fall asleep in this chair if you want me to do that. Hello ladies and gentlemen
[LAUGHTER]
Kevin: That was very good.
Howard: Well I am lector at church you know and I like to speak to the crowds 840 people in our church during the busy season. Right now about 100, the un-busy season.
Howard: Well, what dost thou wish? hah.
Howard: Is that one of those digital type cameras?
Kevin: It is.
Howard: I don't know anything about them, or how to use them or anything else.
Kevin: You're not camera shy are you?
Howard: No.
Kevin: I didn't think so.
Howard: No, not microphone shy.
Kevin: No I don't have a microphone, but.
Howard: Well what picks up the sound?
Kevin: Well there's a little microphone somewhere.
Howard: It has something built in there?
Kevin: Yea.
Howard: Are these lights my better side?
Kevin: I got your better side. I even dimmed the light down a bit, you know. It makes you.
Howard: Allright, makes me shine up better.
Kevin: Kind of like a grace Kelly, 1940's
Howard: Oh ok, well that looks good. Whatever happened to her?
Kevin: I don't know, I didn't do the followup, but...


THE INTERVIEW BEGINS.
Kevin: So where were you born?
Howard: New York City.
Kevin: You'll have to be more specific.
Howard: I don't remember the street because I was too young to recall it. But it was in the Bronx. And uh, yea that was it, in the Bronx, New York City.
Kevin: And is that where you grew up?
Howard: Not in that particular area, but in another part of the Bronx, yes.
Kevin: And what part was that?
Howard: The part commonly referred to as the North Bronx. Near the, not too far from the border of the city of Yonkers.
Kevin: Oh, the nice part of town.
Howard: Yea, nice area, near the parks. No problem.
Kevin: That's good. And what did your dad do?
Howard: He mostly worked in banking areas. One type or another of banking jobs. Various jobs. But mostly as I say in the line of credit and loans and banking work.
Kevin: Trusting people.
Howard: I don't know if he trusted anybody because I don't trust anybody so I don't know about that.
Kevin: That's good. Uh, so, and where did you go to highschool?
Howard: I went to DeWitt Clinton in highschool in the Bronx within walking distance of my house. And it was the largest all boys highschool in the world. With 10,000 boys, all boys. But not all of them went to the main campus. Uhh, We had a couple of other branches. I would guess that, oh maybe about 80% or about 8000 went to the main campus and the others went to the other branches. One branch was in Manhattan, one branch was in the Bronx, another part of the Bronx. I don't know if we had any others. But we always boasted it was the largest all-boys highschool in the world. My graduating class, we used to graduate twice a year, a 6 months arrangement, and my graduating class had 1000 boys in it. And that was half a year if you want to think of it that way. Yep.
Kevin: That's a lot of people.
Howard: Yes it was. And uh, somehow we got along most of the time.
Kevin: So then where did you go to college?
Howard: I first went to the city college of New York, but I stayed there only a semester, maybe a year, I think one semester though, and after many years later I went to the Fordham College.
Kevin: Which is in...
Howard: In the Bronx.

I briefly attended Princeton University under the Army's specialized training program and I flunked out of it because I have always been rather poor at math and they had a great deal of math in the program. In fact if you want a humorous story, or maybe it's not so humorous, one of the final exams, if not the final exam, because this was during WWII, required you to navigate a bomber from the mainland of the United States to someplace in England I guess it was. And you were given all of the things that might happen to you on the trip. Everything from fuel consumption to wind, altitude, all kind of things of that nature and you had to methodically plot this course all the way over to England. And I did that, as did everybody else. But when I got my report back, it said that I had failed because I had brought the bomber down in the water somewhere near England instead of at an airport. So I went to the professor and uh tried to argue myself into a passing grade on the grounds that after all, I came close. And I remember him screaming at me saying, the Army aircore doesn't want people navigating bombers who come close. And that's what happened.
Kevin: Good story.
Howard: But actually I was in the wrong program anyway. When I was in Princeton, I originally had been sent there to study Arabic. At that time they had quite a program, it's interesting today to think of that, and when I got there they somehow divided us up and half of us studied Arabic and half went into engineering. And I got put into the engineering program and that's what got me into trouble.
Kevin: Ah the math.
Howard: The math, namely. And some other courses, physics, chemistry, and so on.

With physics it wasn't so bad because you were divided into partners. Partner was two fellows. And my partner, I worked it out, that he did all the physics experiments. He worked with all the gadgets and timers and whatnot, and then I wrote the reports because I could write and he could do the experiments and we got through there ok.
Kevin: Good.
Howard: Ok.
Kevin: So when did you join the Army?
Howard: 1942.
Kevin: WWII?
Howard: Yes, and that was the war you may have heard of, I don't know. Read your history books.
Kevin: Maybe. And what did you do?
Howard: I was a private. I, I didn't do anything. I helped the war effort, but not very much. Anyway.
Kevin: Did you have to overseas?
Howard: No I didn't. No.
Kevin: So where did they station you?
Howard: Well I was stationed in Camp Upton Long Island, and uh, that's an interesting question, Fort Bragg North Carolina, uhh, then back to New York City at that time there had been a large building, five stories perhaps, which had been the Israel Orphan Asylum, which was a Jewish orphanage for children, Jewish Children. And the Army took it over and converted it into barracks and I was one of the, I guess, few hundred who were in the Israel Orpham Asylum. Of course they didn't call it that once the Army took it over, of course. And we were there, just before and during, the rather serious race riots that took place in Harlem in 1943 I guess it was. And uh, that was a rather serious situation, with shooting and that kind of thing, because we had fellows in the barracks of this building, who literally had to shoot it out with people in other buildings nearby and that sort of thing. So I was there. And then, where did I go next? I think I was in the Israel Orphan Asylum before I went to Fort Bragg. Yea that's right, then I went to Fort Bragg. And I got out of the Army at Fort Bragg. I'd had enough, so they couldn't use my splendid services anymore so I quit.
[LAUGHING]
Kevin: So then you went to go teach?
Howard: No, of course that was, you know 1943 I guess and uh, you know I returned home had various jobs until I went to college at Fordham College. And then Fordum University graduate school.
Kevin: What did you graduate with?
Howard: Well I had my bachelor of science degree, and then I got a master of arts, and then a doctorate of philosophy.
Kevin: Cool.
Howard: And my major was economics.

And then I, well I actually went to teaching when I had my masters degree, and then on to the doctorate.
Kevin: At Seton Hall?
Howard: Well I taught at Seton Hall, but I went to Fordum University for the graduate program.

Ok. You gonna pay me now?
Kevin: Uh, I don't have anything to pay you with.
Howard: Well, I thought maybe this was a paid commercial or something like this, you know.
Kevin: You could have some wine.
Howard: Well, no that's true, but it's early in the morning and there's a saying in the Navy you don't drink until the sun is over the yardarm, and it's not over the yardarm yet.
[LAUGHING]
Kevin: Close. So are there any other interesting stories for my interview?
Howard: Well the most interesting of course has been my life with your dear grandmother.
Kevin: Oh yes I'm sure.
Howard: That has been a series of adventures for almost 50 years. Most of the adventures, pleasant ones. She's having trouble with her ear right now I think I can hear in the background. Yea unfortunately she has a hearing aid and very difficult inserting it properly and it's rather painful for her. We've taken it back for readjustment a couple of times but it still doesn't seem to be right.
Kevin: That's understandable.
Howard: And of course, the greatest adventures also included having children, one of whom is your father.
Kevin: Yes. I'm sure he did all types of bad stuff.
Howard: I wouldn't say bad, I would say adverturesome. I would say original. Everything from being a volunteer fireman to other types of legitimate activity.
Kevin: I see.
Howard: You know when he was a young boy, he belonged to the boy scouts, and, cub scouts I guess first, and the cub scouts then, and maybe still, had an annual derby race where the boys make small wooden cars and they race them down this incline. And they time it, to see who wins. Well I figured I'd help your father out so I had the bright idea, because they had the dimensions for the car, and you couldn't exceed the dimensions, but they didn't say anything about the weight. So I had got bright idea of taking a heavy spike and putting it under the car to give it more weight so then it would go down the hill faster. Well that sounded ok to your father, it sounded ok to me - it was my idea. But when we had the race, the spike stuck on the board of the incline and he was disqualified for trying to maneuver this.
Kevin: Cheating?
Howard: Well they didn't say you couldn't do that, but unfortunately, that's what happened.
Kevin: And you, you used to have a boat?
Howard: Yes, we've had several boats. And uh, the last boat we had was a trawler type boat, 43 feet long, twin diesel engines, and uh, we sold that boat ohh I would say it must be about 13 or 14 years ago. We used to keep it in the Chesapeake Bay. We cruised all over. We've been to Canada with it, we've been up and down the Hudson, throughout Chesapeke Bay obviously, other places too.
Kevin: Was that the LeiLani?
Howard: Yes. Each of our boats has been named LeiLani. And uh, I got the name from a motion picture going back to the 1930's I guess, maybe 1936, 37 with Bing Crosby where he sung the song Sweet LeiLani. And at that time as a young boy, I said if I ever had a boat, I'm going to name it LeiLani. And I remembered that, and that's why the name. LeiLani means beautiful flower in Hawaiian. So all my boats have been called LeiLani.
Kevin: I did, I did try to break one of your boats one time. I threw your ropes overboard if I recall.
Howard: Well yes, I remember that. In fact when you were younger than that and you used to cruise on one of our boats with your parents, we had a flying bridge. And naturally you take small children on a flying bridge and it's kind of risky, especially when their in a playpen. So your father rigged up the playpen on the flying bridge, secured it to the rail, and dunked you in it, so you couldn't go anyplace that we weren't aware of.
Kevin: That was clever. I was a prisoner.
Howard: More or less. It's good practice for years later in life.
Kevin: Yea I guess so. One of these days. Well is there anything else you'd like to say?
Howard: Well it's a pleasure celebrating Christmas here with you and your family, and our family, and hope you do well in your course, and if some professor is reading this or judging it, he should know that he has a good student.
Kevin: That's good.
Howard: Ok.
Kevin: That'll work.
Howard: Thank you.
Skydiving San Marcos
July 7th, 2001 | View Post

In February of 2001, I bought my then girlfriend, Dayna McKay, something unique for her birthday. The thought was something that we could both do, something that she had been wanting to do, and something adventurous. As the title no doubt suggests, I got her a skydiving package in San Marcos, Texas. She sat on the gift certificate for several months until over the summer of '01, she finally decided that we would make the trip down there and jump. It took 30 minutes to drive to San Marcos, 4 hours to sit around and train, and about 4 minutes to fall from 12,000 ft in the sky.

Getting Prepared


Dayna and I getting ready to make our jumps.
Dayna and I arrived sometime around noon on the 28th of July at the facility in San Marcos. After the initial greetings and watching a few people make their descents, we decided that it was time to get in gear -- in this case, literally. We began going through the 30 or so minute training course that ultimately prepares you for what you are about to experience. They show you very basic drills such as how to hold yourself in the air, how to prepare for landing, and small drills in between.

Making the Jumps

To anyone who has never tried skydiving, I would highly advise it. As far as a quick rush, it's most certainly up there. Oddly enough, however, I found that the ride down on the parachute was actually more exciting than the initial free fall. This was mostly in part to the fact that it was considerably more controllable, and I could force myself into a number of sideways G-forces by playing with the parachute strings. My tandem master, Jeff, was pretty good at letting me do more or less whatever I wanted to do with the chute and I think appreciated my fearless attitude.

Dayna's ride down was considerably more interesting than was mine. Her freefall went about the same as anyone elses might, however when it came time to pull the parachute, their was some sort of failure. Apparently the chute popped out, but a number of the strings had crossed and her tandem master knew that they were falling much too quickly to make a safe tandem landing. He did what he could for awhile but in the end decided that he was going to have to cut them free with his knife and pull the reserve chute before it was too late. As Dayna told me, when he began pulling out his knife, a swift gust of wind swept through and the strings naturally seperated themselves. They were way off target but otherwise made a safe landing.

Notes on the Video

I have included a video of this particular event that was made by Skydive San Marcos. The videographer was Kyle. The capture is a little choppy and as soon as I can get a faster card, I will redo the video.

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