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Thursday, July 16, 2015

I went skydiving

I had the chance to go skydiving a few weeks ago. It was actually easier than I thought it would be..
I went with Skydive Miami (http://skydivemiami.com/). The booking was made a few days before and I showed up on the day for the jump. At the office I first sat through a video informing about the risks involved with jumping and what I will be doing during it. After that, if i still wanted to go, I signed a very extensive contract which said that in case of any accidents, damages, injury etc I could not sue the skydiving company or any one related to the jump. I also filled out a next of kin contact and a statement that I am doing it of my own free will. I would be given the choice to abort my jump up to the moment just before I did it, but if I aborted at such a late time I would just be going for a very expensive plane ride. I paid about $320usd for a tandem jump with free-fall for 60 seconds from 13,500 feet and photos of the dive.

In a back room I was suited up and went over the positions to hold during the jump. I was given a hat that covered my ears, goggles, an altimeter on my wrist and a full body harness. To exit the door I would be standing on my knees and arms crossed to my shoulders. A few seconds after exiting the door he would tap my shoulder and I would put my arms up above my head. The professional diver would be in charge of everything and I would just be there for the ride.

I jumped!
After I was suited up I was pointed outside to wait for my instructor and camera man. There were two other jumpers on the plane with me and they too had 60 second dives. Each jumper had an instructor and camera man so there were 9 people on this trip. The camera men each had a hard helmet with 2 cameras on them. A minute later I was pointed toward the awaiting plane. The plane did not have stairs and we used a ladder to climb into the 6 foot tall plane. I went in first followed by everyone else. The space inside the plane was about as big as the length of a car dashboard-to-rear bumper and I had to walk on my knees because it was not high inside. The space was all open with the bottom being carpet and the top corners having a couple straps to hold on to. My instructor turned the co-pilot seat to face backward and sat in it. He opened his legs and I sat with my back facing him and open my legs for another person to sit there. The other people all sat in the same way until we were all loaded.

The ladder was taken away and the plane went out to the runway. All this time the opening was still open, wind blowing through it. I suppose if you see everyone else around you calm you get a sense of security from that. I was also the furthest away from it so I was not too worried. A camera man was closest to the door and was looking out of it while holding on to a strap. The plane did not wait very long to begin to take off since this was a small air strip and not busy. The door remained open for a few minutes until we were pretty high up. He then closed the door which was a Plexiglas sheet that came down from along the roof. The feeling was the familiar ride of a small plane like the one that goes to Tobago. The ride up was a constant climb, I could feel the plane pointed upward.

The air started getting cooler and my ears popped a few times. After a few minutes the instructors started hooking up to the the newbies. My altimeter said we were at 10,000 feet. The camera man opened the door. and the first jumper was taken away. I would be jumping second. I had to walk on my knees toward the door, while strapped to the instructor. It was a little painful since the floor was hard my ankles had to be straight to fit under the instructor. At the door the camera man was half outside and facing inward to capture the action. My knees were at the edge and I folded my arms and waited for the plunge. 

Outside had a bright sky with clouds below us. The camera man fell off the plane and a few seconds I felt myself leaning out the door. I was not scared but excited.  I was out of the door faster than I expected. The first few seconds were the hardest to experience, I had a 'falling' feeling in my stomach. This did not last long, soon the feeling was just one of speed, as if I was in a very fast car. The sound of air rushing by was muffled by the hat I was wearing and the goggles did a good job of letting me keep my eyes opened. I did have my eyes opened for the entire thing. I was looking down when I was not waving at the camera. The camera man came in front of me and at one point he was so close I could have stretched my hand out to touch him. After my instructor leveled us off, we posed for a few seconds for pictures, then he did a hard spin to the left, then we posed again, and then a hard spin to the right, then we posed again. At this point I was looking all around, I could see a coast line and all the roads and tall buildings far out. It was like a really good window seat on a plane... It was really thrilling to feel the speed and to know that I was free-falling. 

Soon the parachute was deployed and I felt a small pull on my harness. I was expecting a harder pull like sudden braking in a car but this was soft. The rush of air stopped and it was completely quiet. My ears had popped once already and were about to pop again. It was like a quiet room now and the instructor asked me where I was from and he said there were actually a few Trinis diving the day before. He then forgot where we had to land and I had to help him find it. I looked up and there was MY parachute, I was really skydiving! He gave me the straps(?) to 'drive' with which I just hung on to. It was amazing sitting in the harness with nothing below me and now we were passing through a cloud. He pulled the left cord and we did a shard bank to the left. A few seconds we did a sharp bank to the right. I felt some major G forces in the turns. At one point I looked down to see my shadow on a cloud and a bright rainbow coloured halo around the shadow which stayed there until the I passed through the cloud. At this point I started feeling slightly nauseated. The only parachute I noticed below me now was for my camera man. My ears had popped again and it may have been the pressure changes making me upset. We were below the cloud line and going in for a landing. We were aiming for the middle of a field. One more bank to the left lined us up for a final approach. We were going at a sort of 'medium' speed toward the ground. I was supposed to bring my legs up in front of me and we would slide in landing on our bottoms. The landing was pretty uneventful. If was actually easy! 

Final approach
I had reached back to the ground, I just jumped out of a plane! I was still pumped with adrenaline. My mouth was very dry, a normal after effect apparently. I was the first to land even though I jumped second. The other people landed a few seconds after me. We congratulated each other and were pumped to jump again. Second jumps actually come at a big discount if we did it within a week. A shuttle was waiting to take us back to the office a minute away. At the office we returned the equipment and called our families to tell them we survived! At the front desk we got to scroll through the pictures for each of us. A picture was taken every few seconds on the cameras from just before we jumped until shoots were deployed and we got them on a CD.  Only I was fortunate enough to have pics of me landing, the other people only had of them in the air. 

I am not sure I would do it again, but I did enjoy the experience immensely. I think I managed to survive one jump and I am happy knowing I did it once in my lifetime. This is not for everyone and I am glad I was able to do it.






The Daily Show - Fraud City (youtube)

We have a similar problem with our big financial players and the 'common man'.








Monday, July 13, 2015

Best internet connection in Trinidad and Tobago

I would like to compare the current residential packages available from multiple providers right now. There are 3 main providers in the country.

Flow : http://discoverflow.co/trinidad/internet/rates-and-packages
Blink:http://www.blinkbroadband.tt/residential-packages
Digicel: http://4g.digiceltt.com/en/pricing/donglesmodemstablet-plans

'Wired' vs 'Wireless'
First of all, any 'wired' provider is cheaper than a 'wireless' provider. When I say 'wired' I mean a wire comes to your house which is what you get with Flow and Blink GPON and copper. You can have a wireless access point from the wire broadcasting throughout your house, but reception is only in and around your house, with range of the access point. Some providers give you a wireless/modem or access point with their install and some tell you buy your own. The packages are 'unlimited' download with your amount of data not monitored. There may not be an official Fair Usage Policy from the providers but they may throttle you down you use whatever they consider to be too much, but it is very unlikely you will reach that.

A 'wireless' provider such as Blink via LTE or wireless router, or Digicel's Wifi/USB dongles are devices that you can carry around the country away from your home and still get service. Wireless options have a limited amount of data for a given period, eg 15GB for a month. It is very easy to reach this with a lot of video or music playing and posting and viewing pictures.

Notes
The three providers give reliable service. The wireless devices will need the appropriate type or reception in order to operate at their full potential. Digicel's dongles switch down to edge speeds if they are only getting that service. Blink's dongles lose service completely when not getting high speed reception. Digicel typically has better reception (with all their services).

Flow has the maximum download and upload speeds available.

Blink has the cheapest package with 1Mbps down/256kbps down for $129.57 but for about $10 more you can get double the download speed and four times the upload at 2Mbps down/1Mbps up.

The most suitable package for a family, with perhaps up to 3 or 4 users at a time is Turbo 15 (15Mbps down/2Mbps up). This is loads of bandwidth for almost anything you need to do. Start at a lower package and test it out and if you think you need more then upgrade it.

I do not work for Flow or am associated with them in any way and this is not a paid review.
I think the best value for money as well as service is one of Flow's packages. There is no contract to sign but they do prefer a minimum connection period of a few months. They have consistently raised their speeds on packages while the competitors are far behind.

If you have to get a wireless/portable device, I recommend Digicel's dongle with 15GB per month. If this is not your primary source for the internet you may only need 5GB. They offer faster speeds and a bigger data bundle per month than Blink.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Some people just want to see the world burn

It is amazing something like this can happen and be hidden for so long.
http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2015/06/fake-bomb-detectors-iraq

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Action

What is the most important thing I can be doing right now ..and why am I not doing it?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Food for the world