RIGHTS

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There are three types of Right.

  • Right and Left.
  • Right and Wrong.
  • Right and Privilege.

 

Right and Left

These are basically directions. If you turn Right and I turn Left, it is going to perhaps take a long time for us to meet – if ever we do.

 

Right and Wrong

Sometimes also Incorrectly referred to as Correct and Incorrect. This is a bit more troublesome. Especially when it comes to the courts (more on the courts when we get to Rights and Privileges) where countries and cultures enshrine their norms in Laws. These change over time and under circumstance. What was Wrong last year, or even last week, could all of a sudden be Right. When it comes to Maths, then things get a bit tougher. 1 + 1 = 2. But what happens around the concept of Zero. Is there such a thing as Zero? A more difficult question is “Is there such a thing as Nothing?” See most people have problems with concepts.

 

Rights and Privileges

These are even more troublesome. What are rights? And what jurisdiction do they have? Are they local, regional or universal? Who gives Rights or are they inherited from birth? Are they inalienable? Can you lose your Rights (if you ever had any) and who can take them away from you? Do you ever have to pay for Rights? And what if your Rights clash with my Rights?

Tough questions. To which we all think we may have the answer, but let me tell you “No we don’t have the answers” because if we try to enforce some of our answers under the pretext of a Right, we are going to land in more mess than we can handle, or would like to handle – as a person, a society, as a humanity.

 

What are Rights?

I tried to find a definition of Rights but gave up. There are too many words trying to describe this word. Here is a definition of Human Rights by The Free Dictionary by FARLEX: “The basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are considered to be entitled, often held to include the rights to life, liberty, equality, and a fair trial, freedom from slavery and torture, and freedom of thought and expression.”

Really?

Take note of the words “considered” and “often”. Who gives this consideration? What does “entitle” mean? Another big word to struggle with. A short and simple answer is that this may be “considered” fair in certain circumstances and places but:

  • Go take a walk in a jungle and see how many Rights you have. To any of the things mentioned here.

Who guarantees your “Rights” and under what circumstances? If a lion savages you in the jungle, who decides if the lion should be put to death? In fact, should the lion be put to death? Doesn’t the lion have a Right in its own backyard? So, Rights are not universal and they are arguable amongst species. Now what happens amongst humans who live in different countries? Interesting question, more so when country A decides that the people in country B has the same Rights as those in country A. This sort of thinking leads to war. And then we send in soldiers from country A – some of whom die – to “free” those in country B. And who decides that country A’s soldiers can have their lives (a basic Human Right) terminated? Is that Right?

You see, the concept (and it is just that – it is not a Right – that Rights are Rights may be misleading. In fact it may be Incorrect. Too many assumptions. So I give up trying to answer these questions. It is a waste of time.

And politician and lawyers make too much money out of them.

 

“Freedom”

I prefer the word “Freedom”. It imbues a choice. But even those are limited.

 

Privilege

Maybe the word “Privilege” make a bit more sense. But there are also questions about that. Who gives you a Privilege? Or is that an Incorrect question.

Maybe you don’t have to be given a Privilege.

Maybe you are born with Privileges. Maybe Life is a Privilege. Arms. Legs. Eyesight. So is fresh air. Running water. Food. An opportunity to learn. Study. Have a job. The Time we have with loved ones.

  • Privileges are things we should be thankful for.

Rights are things we claim. Rightly or Wrongly. But who “guarantees” them?

 

oooOOOooo

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Credit Card Fraud – $16.3 BILLION last year

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Credit card fraud is on the rise.

Important Points

Let’s look at some important bullets:

  • 2014 credit card fraud was $16.3 Billion (with a B)
  • Credit Card fraud (19%) outpaced the growth of credit cards (15%).
  • US fraud loss was 12 ¾ c for every $100.
  • Rest of the world fraud loss was 3 ¾ c per $100.
  • Estimates are that it will average $30 Billion per year over the next 6 years, by which time it would have more than doubled today’s figures to $35 Billion.
  • Banks / investigators estimate that is will decrease after 2020. I predict that it will not, especially with the Asian market still very much in growth/expansion mode. It will not slow down unless all credit card business stops – which will not happen.
  • New protective technology is introduced every year, but the fraudsters are often out-running the protectors.

 

Two points are important to note:

  • It sounds small – until you are the victim.
  • I hesitate to say that this is the full figure, since organizations and individuals may in fact hide some of the cases – for obvious reasons.

 

Five cases

Let me summarize 5 of my own cases:

  • 24 Dec 1973: Amex card stolen. Before the card was stopped I had lost a whole month’s salary. In 1974 things were different than today. It cost me
  • 2003: Received a call one Sunday morning informing that my card had been compromised in another country. I lost no money and my replacement card was with me within a week.
  • 2008: It took me 3 years to get an internet provider to stop billing me for services I terminated when I moved to another country. I had my bank behind me and we disputed it every month until we won the argument.
  • 2010: My card was compromised in another country (with a fraudulent card – something I will expand on more later) by someone buying first 4, then 2, then 1 airline tickets which he sold to people for trips between Australia and NZ. I was in Singapore at the time, and could prove it – luckily.
  • 2012: I made a one-time payment from Singapore to a company in the US, which they subsequently auto-renewed without my knowledge (or warning) and I ended up losing my credit card. I got most of my money back. But losing the card is what hurt – to some degree. This is something I will touch on again later – and the way that you can overcome it.

 

Notice the Pattern?

It took 30 years from case 1 to case 2. Then it picked up speed and now repeats every 2 years.

And it is not just fraud but blatant money-grabbing and the card-holder has very few ways to fight back except for inconveniencing him/her-self.

Cases is known where 3-star generals were caught with 2,500 blanks which they were busy turning into fraudulent cards which were for sale at USD2,000 but with $10,000 loaded. That is aside from having been caught with the Reserve Bank signatures for printing false notes – which has not been configured into the $16.3B fraud.

 

Just One of the Frauds

Credit card fraud is just one way to become a victim. Other fraud activities include:

  • Cloning / phishing / skimming at ATM’s and other sites.
  • Account take-over (often via changing the victim’s address details – physical and or email.
  • Card users themselves also “clean out” their cards and then run away.
  • “Friendly fraud” perpetrated by someone whom the victim knows. These are often not reported due to people trying to protect relationships / family. However, these cases are starting to appear with regularity on some current affairs programs.

 

How to Fight Back

I spoke with my bank representative two days ago who informed me that she herself is now fighting 2 cases of fraud involving her credit card number. She has settled one so far.

  • Keep you card in a safe place (on your person is one way, depending on your movements and location). In fact, check your cards from time to time.
  • Study your statements every month.
  • Report any breach or loss of a card immediately.
  • Gather supportive information to prove where you had been at the time. In my case it was my passport that came to the rescue.
  • Do not give up, even if the bank seems to tread water (which was in my instance number 4 above. I eventually made enough public noise that my case was taken into a private office and settled but not after I was threatened with them calling the police – which I said I would welcome).
  • Think very hard who you give your credit card details to, especially in today’s internet shopping world. I spoke to my lawyer yesterday and her response was “giving your credit card number to someone (person or company) is like giving them a signed cheque” to which I would like to add “several signed blank cheques”.
  • Whatever you buy / when you eat out, and pay for by credit card, check the relevant paperwork before leaving the queue. Years ago, when cards were still imprinted, I used to follow the person to the pay point and forced them to do the imprint in front of me – also taking with me all “bad imprints”. I never left them behind since there was a market for those.

 

There are more ways to protect yourself – some of which will be covered in an upcoming book – but it causes some inconvenience to yourself.

 

Was Your 2015 a Groundhog Year?

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 “Hello Again”

As a year draws to a close we all normally – at one point or another – reflect silently on what we had done during the time.

Two things are important:

  • Things change. “You never stand on the same river bank twice”.
  • Time goes by – relentless. “Our tomorrows are not endless”.

So what do we do to distinguish ourselves from the one period to the next during the passing of Time? Do we groundhog-live the same life again or do we tackle new things, brave new adventures, leave a fuller Chest of Legacies?

Many years ago I spent 3 years with a backpack on the road – and tried to make each day different from the previous day – learning new things, experiencing new places, savouring new cultures, building a mental album of things that I can now both reflect on and find blank spaces to put a “snapshot” in.

I sat on our patio the other night watching a fantastic sunset and noticed that the crumbs that I spilt (I was celebrating the release of my 2nd book) attracted some ants. As dusk settled in it dawned on me that if I sit still long enough in one place I will be eaten by ants.

So, rather than be eaten by some virtual ants, I make it a point to keep moving in life. I do not intend to live groundhog years.

What are your Goals for 2016?

 

My 2015 in Short Review – Activity-wise

  • Published 36 blogs
  • Completed and published my 2nd book (50 PERSPECTIVES – The Value of Things Unseen)
  • Started on 2 others (one practical, one semi-autographical)
  • Appeared at Faeryville Singapore Red Carpet Event with award-winning producer Tzang Merwyn Tong, his production team and my co-stars.
  • Enjoying a 2nd season of organically self-raised (“free range”) vegetables.
  • Delivered 6,000 free local newspapers in our suburb, walking 250kms in the process.
  • Played Santa to 2500 children and their parents over 7 Saturday in a national chain store.

 

Missed doing

  • Playing in another movie.
  • Making a record.

YEARS TOO LATE

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(Another true story – 7 Cans. 1 Hour)

Back story:

  • I found a job in Jakarta, Indonesia and still rented a weekend house in the small steel town 85 km from the city where most of my friends stayed. It gave me an opportunity to get out of the city for Fun Runs which predictably invariably ended up with more Fun than Run. It also afforded a welcome break from the IT business, choked traffic, eternal protest rallies and glitzy shopping malls.
  • I used to drive myself out of the city on those Friday evening and to get into the mood I would buy two or three 750ml bottles of local Anchor beer and soak them up on the way home. Translated it would mean about 7 standard cans. The journey would normally take about an hour in the dark once you leave the city.

Seven cans. One hour.

There I was, buckled up and belting down the toll road out of a partially pyrotechnically and incrementally infantile protesting Jakarta. Friday evening! On my way “home!” La Dolce Vita clenched between my thighs, in the form of the second bottle of half-sipped luke-warm beer, windows wound down to let in Mother Nature – listening to “Hey Jude” on the radio at 160 clicks an hour. Alone.

It was 10 p.m. and getting unsteadily later. The road sign reflected 45 km, and two more exits to the final turn-off. And home. Choices multiplied: switch radio stations, switch destinations, switch brands. Matrices of Madness with unclear interim destinations but a predictable end-result. Life in the Fast Lane – 30 years too late. Woodstock had come and gone. Even Bob Dylan has changed religion twice.

And basically only one of the three Big Walls remained: Checkpoint Charlie is now checking out a vanishing heap of Berlin rubble. Pink Floyd helped educate those protesting voices of a past generation who “don’t need no education” whilst the Great Wall of China continues to be visible from the moon – probably the only safe place to watch the increasingly lunatic economical and political wobble on Planet 3.

But, hello, what the human eye fails to see, is the biggest human artifact – the worldwide telephone network. Socket to me, you, and whomever else is plugged-in, powered-up and pass-worded. It only needed another w (the web). Funny what just one character can do. But that is just the point. It needs character do worthwhile things. Character, the Anchor of the Spirit. Unbottled. And Stirred.

But the one BIG worry is when, stirred, the alphabet soup of beer misspells your name. Then you are really in the wrong soup. And that brings us full circle: Souped-up wheels, with souped-up drivers, bottling at souped-up-speed-an-hour down souped-up toll roads will land you in the soup. Almost always. With only one destination. You don’t need the pick. And the shovel they will use to dig the hole.

Anchors Away!

15 clicks till exit. One more bottle to go. Aha! But what is that they say about beer? Once you “break the seal it keeps on leaking”. Not a challenge where I am on the “Highway to Hedon”. Pull over to do the “number three”. Cigarette in mouth and with Pink Floyd now belting from the speakers I walk around the front of the car, unzip and turn the relief valve open.

Heaven. Is. A. Roadside. Pee…

…and a Highway Patrol car slides by, windows down – and just keep moving right along.

New-found democracies tend to be more flexible.

Can’t image the scene had this been somewhere else. The USA. The UK. South Africa.

Cilegon, Indonesia. Friday 15th October,1999.

“COME PICK UP THE OTHER HALF ON THE DROP ZONE” (part 3 of 3)

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Recap: After ridiculing friend Martin’s weekend skydiving plans one Friday night in a pub he publicly challenges me to come pick up one half of a R10 (close enough to USD10) note on the drop zone – if I dare. I accept the dare and do the jump – with less than perfect results: I cannot seem to get up and stand on my right leg after, and having landed in a cow patch I now spot a bull and my friends bearing down on me from different directions. On arrival at the hospital it becomes apparent that the medical attendant’s national sport team had just won a significant event – and he had been celebrated prematurely… Now read the concluding part of this real-life story:

And so opens another chapter in the Saga of Saturday.

I am placed on a high medical bed. He prods here. Bends the foot there. Oohs and Aahs as doctors do. Its part of the final exams for a doctor, the Ooh and Aah bit.

“Ouch!” that was me.No Ooh and Aah out of me. I am not qualified.

“Hm. Worst sprain I have ever seen in my life”, and with that he arms himself with a crepe bandage and proceeds to wrap my ankle – which of course requires it being moved about and lifted a bit.

More “Ouch”. Less Ooh and Aah.

“Ok you can get up now” and with that he stands back to admire his medical skills and for me to get off the bed.

It is starting to dawn on me that this is going to take more than an Aspro and a week to heal.

I slide off the bed, put my foot experimentally down – and it just folds sideways, collapses.

Make that two Aspro’s and two weeks.

We look at each other. The smile on his face had – hopefully – very little to do with my wobbly foot.

Two of my earlier rescuers went outside and came back with a “dropper” which is basically a thin metal pole that is used in South Africa to do wire fencing. They bent it into a walking stick and handed it to me.

We hobble back to the truck and camp. Someone produced a bottle of Scotch which was to be my comfort for the night and which I stood swigging at until it was empty. Yes and there was a certification ceremony and a barbeque to celebrate my jump. The bottle of scotch was of course a mistake. The midnight pee was agony.

But the morning was worse. I now had to content with a “severely sprained ankle” and “roaring campfire” in my head. And the leg was by now swollen into the size of a watermelon. Bulging over the crepe bandage.

So, up we packed. Off we went and straight to The Groote Schuur Hospital, made famous by Dr. Chris Barnard for performing the world’s first heart transplant there. Hopefully I was not going to need any transplants. Hopefully.

“So, what is wrong with him?” At last a doctor is attending to me. A doctor with white clothes on. Not a swaying sport fan with impeded faculties dressed in shorts and a T-shirt. And victory on his mind.

By this time it is late afternoon. I am thirsty. In pain. Hung over. Hungry. My impatience led to ehm .. a difference between me and the doctor. I was declared unruly, un-co-operative and forthwith kicked out of the hospital without treatment.

Doctors 2. Kris 0.

Ok. Let’s go back home. That is a good place. Maybe.

There was a deep sigh, a worried look, and sympathetic eyes. With a tear in them. Mom said little other than “ai” which can probably translate (in this instance) to “and what now?” And a few other sentiments. Subdued was not the word to describe Martin and the other blokes. Silence is golden. I now know where Simon and Garfunkel got the idea for the name of their famous song.

“Ok Ma’am. We are sorry. And we have to go now.”

The night was long.

Gillian (a colleague) arrived during the course of the next day with a get well card which features on the cover of this book. Together with Mom they decided to take me to another doctor. I made a promise not to fail this test.

X-rays showed what we suspected. Ankle broken in two places. Fibula (outer of the two bones in the lower leg) snapped and broken in half.

The sporting doctor was right: Worst sprain ever.

I pleaded with all not to put my right leg in plaster, having had my left leg from toes to hip in plaster of Paris for extended periods when I was in primary school. It is not fun.

”No, of course not. We know the agony people go through. Your Mom told me about your childhood struggles in plaster of Paris. Don’t worry. But we will have to put you under narcosis to attend to things because the leg is quite swollen”.

Doctors talk in understatements. Swaying or sober.

So I woke up with my leg in plaster of Paris.

Doctors 3. Kris 0.

And a dent in my trust towards doctors. Do they also get taught this in medical school?

Mom was good enough to go buy me a bottle of whiskey as a bedside buddy whilst I struggled with the inconvenience of stiffening knee muscles.

I went back to work as soon as I could to submit my resignation in preparation for my emigration to Australia – by ship – which is another story in this book.

Brian, the IT Manager of our Section took one look at my resignation letter.

“How can you resign? Look at you. You can hardly walk”.

Footnote: Now 32 years later I found out that the first doctor was actually a radiographer and doubling as a vet! And he did not spot three breaks in my leg! Glad I am not a sick dog in his town. I will have no legs left. I copy Martin’s informative line “Do you recall the radiographer[1] at (place name) that gave you a clean bill of health also worked for the local vet .”

My comment: Glad I am not a dog or a cat…

~~~~~

They tell me the second jump is more fearful than the first. Although I am ready to go out and face my fear our doctor advised against it. My wife is currently also winning the argument against a second jump however many times I point out that former US Pres George Bush (Sr.) did his number eight jump at age 90.

[1] Radiographer: An important member of a diagnostic health care team. Responsible for producing high quality images to assist medical doctors and specialists in diagnosing/monitoring injuries / illnesses. Where is Superman with his X-ray eyes when you need him?

“COME PICK UP THE OTHER HALF ON THE DROP ZONE” (part 2 of 3)

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Recap: This was a real event: After ridiculing friend Martin’s weekend skydiving one Friday night in a pub he publicly challenges me to come pick up one half of a R10 (close enough to USD10) note on the drop zone – if I dare. Being painted into a corner, I had to accept the dare (meaning that I was going to do a jump) and was picked up early on Saturday morning. I did some training and due to a possible rainstorm in the late afternoon, the co-ordinator decided that we would jump immediately.

Now read Part 2 of 3.

Quick vote. Tonight we’ll have a BBQ, so let’s do it now.

My toast just got burnt!

“OK tog up, we will jump soon”.

Into the shed.

“Hm, you should have a 32 foot canopy for your weight. We only have a 28 footer”.

“Hm, you take a size 6 boots. We only have a spare size 10. With no laces.”

“Guys, anybody got two pairs of thick sox for Kris to bulk up his boots. And can someone get two pieces of soft wire that we can use as laces?”

Summary for the reader: Drank Friday night till midnight. Short on sleep. Long on hangover. Left a worrying Mom at home. 2 hours in a car. Bit of theory. Bit of practice. Bit of lunch. Brewing storm. 28 feet canopy instead of 32. Size 10 boots instead of 6. Wire for laces. 2 pairs of sox. And a brewing storm. Sorry, I think I repeated myself here.

Perfect! What can go wrong?

So. Off comes the Cessna’s door and we all pile in.

“Kris, you get in last”.

LIFO. Last In First Out.

I am sitting in a plane with no door. And I have to jump. FIRST. If I freeze there will be some very angry jumpers behind me who have all paid for their jumps.

Neat trick.

Climb. Circle. Climb. Circle. Climb. Circle.

“Ok get ready. We are nearing the drop zone”. I start to move out the hole where there once was a door. And a gush of wind changes my nervous smile into a lip-flapping cavity. I reach out, grab the strut and put my right foot on the step.

“OK, GO!”

I let loose of the strut. Fling my arms out. Arch backwards and see and hear the plane roar away!

Piece of toast. Hope it stays unburnt.

FLAP! And I stop falling. Suspended in the air. I HAVE DONE IT! Or rather I am busy doing it!

I look up and see the canopy flapping freely. There is no sound. But the ropes are a bit twirled and I start to spin around slowly. 90. 180. 270. 360. 450. 540 degrees. And slowly back again.

THIS IS IMMENSE! Is this what birds experience with every flight? The FREEDOM. The VIEW. The CALM. The EXHILIRATION!

HOOKED! LINED. And SINKERED!

Can we do it one more time!

The stunning panoramic view lets you merge into a 3-D one-ness with it all. You are hanging in the air. This is fun! More than a sport! It is Living with a capital L.

But why is the earth coming nearer so fast?

Can this please last for a bit longer?

What is that sound?

“Keep your feet together! And legs stretched out!” yells someone from below.

Oh yes. Theory. Practice. Feet together when you hit the ground. Collapse at knees towards the right.

Then collapse the chute by pulling on the straps closest to the ground.

Theory. Practice. Theory. Practice. Practice. Practice!

I try to climb up the chute but it does not help.

I extend my right leg to protect my hip and left leg (which is 1 inch shorter than the right leg due to a childhood ailment).

Thump! Hm. Not enough collapse at the knees.

The wind drags the chute along towards a cow. I landed in a cow patch. Lucky I missed the brown bits.

Collapse the chute. Collapse the chute! Bump. Bump. And I come to a halt.

My right foot is at a strange angle. I try to get up but cannot stand on it. And as I look I see two things boring down on me from opposite angles. A flatbed truck. And a bull! A jealous bull!

Who will win?

“Ok guys, get him on the back of the truck. Ok lets go! And lets get him to a doctor”.

During the rather bumpy ride I try to figure out how to get my foot standing up into its normal position. No luck. Well wait and see. Its ok, don’t worry.

What will Mom say about this?

What is now going to happen about my emigration to Australia, which is due in 6 weeks?

We enter a medical facility next to the doctor’s house. I am put onto a high medical examination bed. I can hear a TV blaring. And then a huge eruption! Oh yes the Curry Cup is on today[1].

A “YES! We won!” emanates from the room and the doctor sways through the door.

“We have won! We have won!” And it is quite clear that he had something more than milk and cookies to get him through the match.

I supported the losing team that year and here I was in the camp of the enemy about to be treated by an “enemy doctor.” It all started to make sense.

And so opens another chapter in the Saga of Saturday.

[1] The Curry Cup was South Africa’s premier domestic rugby union competition trophy for which the provincial teams or substantial teams within each province competed throughout winter into October. It was the ultimate in domestic rugby union and the final match was closer to a civil war than a closing match for the season.

“COME PICK UP THE OTHER HALF ON THE DROP ZONE”

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Part 1 of 3 from Chapter 1 of my next book “WELCOME TO THE ONE BROKEN LEG CLUB”


 

“COME PICK UP THE OTHER HALF ON THE DROP ZONE”

 

I am sure there are other versions of this story.

This is mine because I was the guy on the back of the flatbed truck …

 

Martin, colleague, friend and parachuting aficionado, and I had a few beers on Friday night 30 September 1983 in my favourite pub around the corner from my apartment. Note that I can pinpoint not only the date but also the day of the week.

I: “So what are you guys doing this weekend?”

Martin: “Skydiving”.

So I let it slip for a beer and a few songs.

I: “Silly to throw yourself out of a fully functional aircraft with just a handkerchief above your head, isn’t it!”

Not silly, just stupid. And on second thoughts, it’s not a sport. Running is a sport. What’s so fancy with sitting in an airplane and then just jump out? No sweating. No muscles required. Just jump.

As the pub band was finishing their night’s entertainment with “Sweet Dreams” from the Eurythmics Martin took a R10 note out of his change on the table, tore the note in two and placed one half in front of me.

Martin: “Come pick up the other half on the drop zone tomorrow – if you dare. Or better still, we can pick you up at 6.30 a.m. That way you don’t have to drive there and back. You are not chicken are you, hmm?”

I stubbed out my cigarette, looked at the half-torn note like it was diseased, then looked up at Martin to see if this was a joke. There were more than twinkles in his slowly narrowing eyes. I was painted into a corner. This was my regular pub nearest to home. The band had stop playing. Other patrons overheard the challenge.

My fear of ridicule was greater than my fear of fear. And the slowly spreading sly smile told me that Martin enjoyed the stab at my fear – and pride.

Acceptance was the better part of valor. I reminded myself to review our friendship and drinking habits, especially on Friday evenings. Now to get this story past my Mom who was living with me due to a family circumstance.

It took three cigarettes (me), two cups of coffee (Mom) and all the skills of a defense lawyer trying to break up a hung jury to get Mom to see it my way. Or rather Martin’s way. I prayed for severe storms all night. Daybreak left me less of a believer. And the Ten Commandments didn’t help either.

Can I call in sick?

Not many hours later there was a cheerful knock on the door. You know the sort of “tap tarra rap tap – tap tap I got your number” type.

Martin: “Good morning Ma’am. Is Kris ready? Don’t worry we will look after him and bring him home, no problem” (well for Martin that is, I thought, but silence was the better part of a rather stretched friendship at this point).

I felt like Atlas as we shuffled off to the elevator.

The 160+ km ride was – well – less than cheerful, from my side that is. The other guys were in much brighter spirits, looking forward to another adrenaline kick. My thought were more of the pillow-and-mattress type kick. And my hang-over talked back in capital letters.

The camaraderie was tangible as we arrived. The talk infectious. Friends from a few places were arriving one after the other and were greeted with a cup of coffee, talks of the weekend’s impending jumps and stories of past jumps.

I was pulled aside into the shed to fill out the obligatory paperwork and answer a few questions on any reasons that would stop me from jumping – which we sailed through without a hiccup.

And missed my chance of being disqualified and declared incapacitated.

On to a look at the training gear. A dummy parachute much like a backpack (hmm I hope I get a real one to jump with) and I started to feel the slow creep of excitement.

The agenda was to include some theory, then two practical sessions in which to climb onto a tower (about 3 meters high) and jump from there with the objective to learn how to land, to collapse the legs and to fall towards a preferred side.

Easy. I can do that. Piece of toast. So I practiced a few times before lunchtime. There was another practice session scheduled for after lunch. Right?

“Ok guys, what’s for lunch?”

Things were shared and then someone handed the weather report to the co-ordinator.

Co-ordinator: “Guys, the forecast says we will have rain late this afternoon, so the options are, we get ready and do our jumps now, or we delay till tomorrow morning”.

I saw a heaven-sent opportunity. My challenge was to “come pick up the other half on the drop zone tomorrow”, which was – well- today. So if there was no jump, then I will just walk onto the drop zone and claim the other half of the note.

Easy. I can do that. Piece of toast.

Quick vote. Tonight we’ll have a BBQ, so let’s do it now.

My toast just got burnt!

Co-ordinator: “OK tog up, we will jump soon”.

(Part 2 of 3  will be blogged in two days from now)