Last week was not a good one for the integrity of my integument. Yes, that’s an overwrought phrase but I don’t care.

When it finally snowed for good on December 7, we (by which I mean Elvi) felt it was finally time to remove the awfully heavy air conditioner from my office window.

Because it is so heavy, it takes two people to move it. I’ve been having a crappy December (can it really still be the mono?) and wasn’t up to helping to carry the thing downstairs so we left it in the middle of the office.

Late Wednesday afternoon, I pulled myself out of bed in pitch darkness. I stumbled out of the bedroom into the equally dark office and temporarily oblivious to the air conditioner, I stumbled over it.

Elvi was home at the time and she ran up the stairs, thinking part of the house had collapsed. She found me moaning, and pulling myself off the metal box. Its sharp ridges had scraped my left shin, and sliced my right thigh. I also scraped my left forearm as I landed. All my weight had been supported by the right thigh and it was sore. It looked like this the next day:

It still looks something like that a week later, but the purple is darker and there’s a yellow halo around the bruise.

Still, I had one healthy limb – until the next morning.

I was sweeping bagel sesame seeds off our butcher block with my right hand when my pinky caught a splinter. Four for four! That looked like this:

Good thing I have a blog, eh?

My life as a mentor

Back in the ’90s, I created a virtual version of 101 Squadron in Warbirds. One of my recruits, Flyboy, was a 12-year-old Israeli boy who under my tutelage went from turn-and-burner to a master tactician who more often than not bested me in a fair fight (but why fight fair?).

The squadron died out as WarBirds players left for other games and I haven’t kept in touch with most of my squaddies. I knew Flyboy wanted to try for flight school when it came time for his military service.

I recently received this e-mail from him (quoted with permission, and cleaned up a bit):

Hello, Mr. Webs,

It’s been a few years since i last heard from you. A few days ago, I had a chat with Viff and your name came up, so I decided to pop up and say hi.

A lot has happened since we last talked. After I left Warbirds, I played Aces High for a few years. Several Israelis played it and the 101 lived and became a powerful force but, same as WarBirds, people started leaving Aces High and eventually I found myself alone.

That was around five years ago, and several months later I got drafted and started the IAF flight course. I did quite well and was selected to attend fighter-pilot school. After a year and a half, the air force kicked me out of the course but left a window open if I ever wanted to come back.

I decided to leave the air force and went to infantry. I joined one of the elite reconnaissance regiments and in May 2007 finished my training and became operational. After about half a year, I went to the officer academy and I’ve served as an officer in my unit for more than a year.

I havent given up on my flight obsession. I started doing paragliding and kept my account open in Aces High. A few months ago, I contacted the IAF and told them I want to come back and finish what I started. This week I got an answer: they said OK! If all goes as planned, I’ll be back there in January.

There are a lot of great guys I’ve met in the virtual skies I regret I haven’t kept contact with. I guess the intensity of the army and lack of free time contributed to it. I must say I think that you have some responsibility for my choices. I still remember my first days in the virtual world when you taught me the basics of everything. I was 12 years old then (I turned 23 on Nov. 5) and that experience still lives in me. I remember sitting in the tower and listening – well, reading the text – and not understanding how a plane can both climb and accelerate at the same time. I remember learning flying in wing formation for the first time, working as a group and as a squad.

I must say I feel like I’m closing a circle here, and in a way this is my way of saying thank you. I hope my message finds you well and in a good shape.

Waiting to hear back from you,
101 “Red” Squadron, Israel

I wrote back:

Hi, Flyboy!

Great to hear from you. Thanks so much for the warm letter.

It’s strange to think that you’re now, like, a man. It seems not that long ago that we were dueling at O’s house. I remember you kept beating me by blowing your Spitfire flaps at the top of a loop – I was pissed off at you. LOL

I still fly WarBirds once in a while but like you wrote, life gets in the way.

I’m glad things are working out for you and I’m jealous that you’ll be getting to fly a real airplane. I get to fly my dad’s Cessna 182 once every two years or so but he doesn’t like when I pull G on the turns.

Do you have to start over from the beginning or do you pick up near where you left?

I keep in touch with Viff every once in a while – we’re Facebook friends.

Keep in touch. I’d love to hear what happens.

– Websie

The reply, with photos:

Hi, Webs

I’m restarting the third phase of the course, which takes place just after the first year of three. It’s where all the basic flying is done: aerobatic; low-level navigation (300 ft); instrument flying; night flying; soloing; formation flying; and basic air combat. I’m really looking forward to getting inside a plane again. although I barely remember anything.

Fun with customer service

I own two domains, 101squadron.com and the as yet unused shitcafe.com.

I passively renewed the latter with Go Daddy’s automatic renewal and I thought that was that, but yesterday, a customer service rep from Go Daddy called me to confirm that everything had gone according to plan. At least, I think that’s why she was supposed to call but as the call developed, I became less sure of that.

Go Daddy charges $10 or so per year of registration, so calls to all customers for each renewal would cut into profits. The woman who called me asked if I had Web sites set up, so maybe it was a sales call for Go Daddy hosting.

She was, however, laughing at Shitcafe. She thought it was hilarious. She just about begged me to do something with it, at the very least to create an e-mail address. I told her the story of how it came about and she laughed even harder. Maybe she called because she saw it and thought it was so funny.

I still don’t know what to do with that domain name. Any ideas?