Thursday, March 22, 2007

What Have You Learned?

Wow. Over a month since I last posted. That's kinda scary... so here are some Cliff Notes for the past 32 days:
  • I soloed the SportStar almost three weeks ago. I didn't write about it here, because I wrote about it here. It was a great time... it was also the last time I've flown the plane since, as it was grounded soon after that due to a service bulletin on the Rotax engine's fuel pump. Rotax is an Austrian company; a very persnickety one, that issues SBs pretty regularly. Any time something happens to one of their engines... regardless of the probability of the problem happening to another one of their engines... Rotax issues a bulletin. And then the planes are grounded, as the American distributor of parts for this Austrian (did I mention that?) engine frantically attempts to secure the needed parts for every single ultralight pilot in the country. From Austria.
  • Yes, I know, fuel pumps are important, and not something you want to have conk out during a cross country flight (or just after takeoff)... but sheesh, it's been almost three weeks.
  • Speaking of soloing, I've gotten some neat responses to the "Return To Flight" series I'm writing for ANN. A good mix of pilots and industry people, many of which have similar experiences with medical issues -- almost always cancer-related. There is no escaping the fact this disease affects everybody.
  • Which brings me today's news that presidential candidate John Edwards' wife has had a recurrence of her breast cancer. It was all over the news today. I certainly feel for her, and for her family. The news has also served as an ever-present reminder of my own bout with cancer, which I could have done without. I know how trite that sounds, as I'm currently free-and-clear (so the docs say) and Mrs. Edwards has to deal with a diagnosis that by all reports will be a death sentence. A gradual one, but a death sentence; when cancer invades your bones, as hers has, it's incurable. The best they can hope for is an extended treatment cycle. God...
  • I thought I had done a decent job of dealing with the news reports, the Google Alerts, and the commentators debating the impact this news has the Edwards campaign -- until I took a shower this afternoon, and turned on the radio to listen to ESPN radio. Dan Patrick was on, talking about... the Edwards cancer news. Not exactly sports-related. He then teased an upcoming interview with a baseball player, whose name I forget, "who has also fought back from cancer, and today is cancer-free. Well, we can't really say that... he has to go five years before you can say that."
  • I'm cancer-free. I may have to return to the doctor at regular, tightly screened intervals for the next nine years to reconfirm that news, but I'm cancer-free. I have to keep telling myself that... some days more so than others. I know he meant well, but Dan Patrick can go to hell. 
  • Sorry for the rhyme.
  • My best friend and adopted brother celebrated his 40th birthday on the 19th. One week earlier, I accompanied him, his wife and their kids to a cabin on Lake Whitney, about an hour north of Waco. Spent a Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning canoeing on the lake, and reveling in the complete and total quiet, the kind I'd forgotten existed while living in the city. It was an idyllic, 24-hour escape from all worries in The Real World. I'm determined to return there at least once before I move.
  • I've been trying to wrap my brain around this dream I had three weeks ago -- the night after I soloed, in fact. In the dream, an acquaintance of mine, one I haven't talked to in some time, suddenly appeared, wearing a red sweater. I remember that, because in real life I'd only seen her wear red once, and it had made an impression on me. Anyway, in this dream I had a conversation with this estranged friend... a very deep conversation. I wish I could remember details -- I know in this dream we talked at length -- but I forgot most of that conversation when I woke up. Shaking. And with "her" first question to me in the dream reverberating in my ears...
  • "What have you learned?"
I wish I could understand what that is trying to tell me. But then again, dreams aren't supposed to have deeper meaning; they're just our minds wandering, unrestrained. Right?

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