Sunday, 11 March 2012

Kite, Parachute, Signs

Sky-diving is a popular past time. Actually, is it a past time? I don't think it is. It's definitely an extreme sport, but would those who enjoy it call it a past time or a hobby? The phrase 'past time' creates an image of an activity which you can share with your family down the park on a Sunday - like cycling or kite flying. And while I am certain that there families that go Sky-Diving together, they don't do it at their local recreation ground I'm sure.

Incidentally, has any one ever flown a kite whilst Sky-Diving? Taken a kite up with them, and them whilst they are free falling to earth release the kite and hold the string and everything? Or would that not count? Is the need to have both feet on the ground a fundamental law of the kite flying institution. If not, then why can't you do it in the air - at least you would need someone else to run along with the kite to try and launch it.

Or underwater? To the best of my knowledge, most modern day kites are made of lightweight materials (they help it fly, I believe). Early pioneers of kite design experimented with alternative materials such as rock, logs, and iron - but these proved to be less aerodynamic and harder to launch. In fact such materials were forbidden to be used in 1947 after the famous "Primary School Concrete Kite" disaster, when 7 children were crushed to death trying to launch a 12 foot concrete kite.

But modern kites are lightweight, and - as anyone who has flown a kite near a duck pond will tell you - are great at taking out Mallards. And they float on water. So why could you not scuba dive to the bottom of a lake or the sea, and then release your Kite? It would float to the surface, you would hold on to the string and hey presto! You are flying your kite underwater! True, you can't actually control the kite's movement when it is bobbing up and down on the surface - but what do you want? You are taking groundbreaking steps in kite innovation, so one step at a time!

Anyway, Sky-Diving. I'm not totally sure of its origins, but I'm assuming one guy saw another guy plummet to his death after his parachute failed to open, and thought, "Gee, I bet that's fun!"

Actually, I'm surprised that Health & Safety haven't crashed the party and sucked all the fun out of Sky-Diving yet. I'm sure as we speak somewhere the following proposals are being drawn up to make Sky-Diving 'safer' :

• A minimum of three Parachutes must be deployed simultaneously when the rip-cord is pulled.
• Every Sky-Diver must wear a "Fat Suit" - an extra padded jump suit to protect them from a hard landing.
• There must be a ground crew with quickly deployable ladders who will climb up and meet the Sky-Diver and 'walk' them down.

They may sound far fetched, but you know how Health & Safety can be....

So, tomorrow is my second Sign Language assessment. This time I have to describe my home - where it is, how many rooms, and each room colour and furniture. Now, we haven't actually covered this in my Sign Language lessons, so I've had to research all of it myself. To be honest, I'm struggling a little. I've learnt the basic signs, but it is the placement signs and some of the in between descriptive signs I'm having trouble with.

My assessment will be a two way conversation. I will describe my house, and my assessor will ask me questions. I will also have to ask her questions, and will have to show understanding and receptive skills - like repeating what she finger spells. And this time, my assessment will be video'd. So a little more pressure than last time.

I should be okay - I've written a transcript of what I want to say, and a list of questions to ask. What worries me is my ability to read what my assessor asks me.

But, learning is never easy - and all I can do is practice, practice, practice, talk to my tutor tomorrow before I go in for my assessment, and try my best.

If I can, I'll ask for a copy of the video of my assessment - just so I can see what I look like when I'm signing.

Right, better get on and practice!

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