“I have been too long gone, but long time readers know that following this blog is like watching a game of cricket. Nothing at all happens for a very long time, then all of a sudden when you least expect it, something very boring happens.
“I kid of course, cricket is fantastic – any game where you play for five days and still often end in a draw is one that this avid procrastinator can’t get enough of. To fall asleep for hours in front of the cricket and awake to find not much has changed – well isn’t that life itself?”
Soaringdragons: So begins a post on vivaminutiae, and it’s one of the best “irrelevant” openings for any article on WordPress that I’ve ever read. The post is about “ballooners,” but the intro is about cricket and the quirkiness of the author. Even avid ballooners would have a hard time figuring out what this post is about were it not for the mention of the “truck driver float” in the title. Then they would be asking, “Why is 6,000 years of human history, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness a metaphor for a cricket match?
And where are the balloons?” But if you’re not a ballooner you really won’t care if vivaminutiae first indulges in a bit of, well, minutiae before getting around to his subject. It’s not a big sin, we don’t think, but there is a chance that like some great authors he may find himself ultimately assigned to the 1st circle of Dante’s Inferno, but we hope not (unless he likes good conversation).
“This is my longest entry so far, and reflects the high (pun intended) esteem in which I hold those to whom it is dedicated: those magnificent men and their floating machines. Because this latest entry in The Horatio Files would like to pay tribute to the daring men who inhabit the rarified air (okay I’ll stop the lame wordplay – okay maybe a couple more, you’ll have to wait for them…) of the thrilling world of the cluster-ballooner.”
Soaringdragons: Cluster-what? Oh, ballooner. (What do you call a gathering of cluster-ballooners at 10,000 feet who are perilously close and in danger of becoming entangled?) This true introduction is short and to the point, but with enough asides and parenthetical comments (as was the entire faux-introduction) to let us all know that this article is going to be full of them–both amusing and bemusing–and rather than slow down the pace or irritate us, we’ll actually look forward to seeing them. Thus with many more delightful asides and general gabbing we are lead into the wonderful world of “cluster-ballooners”–how they go up and how they come down, sometimes very fast so that the actuarial tables for ballooners are a poorer bet than most horse races.
“This is not for the faint-hearted. You’d have to be some kind of ballunatic to even attempt it. Let me introduce Padre Adelir Antonio de Carli.”
Soaringdragons: Re-coining “ballooner” as ballooniere, balloonario, and ballunatic, the author goes into the history of ballooning, which all started with somebody’s “laundry drying in front of the fire,” and then the first public demonstration of a floating device on June 4, 1783, followed in September by the first “manned” test flight with a sheep, a duck and a rooster who looked at each other and said, “Are we going to market, or what?”
“I’ll admit that ‘ballooner’ doesn’t sound very cool,” vivaminutiae writes, but his description of the adventurous world of ballooners–which is a very small club of your not so average citizens who often stand in need of extensive psychological rewiring–is very cool and a lot of fun. So take your laptop out to your backyard and sit in a lawnchair, tie a few balloons to it just as Larry Walters below did in 1982, and vicariously enjoy the ride he accidentally took to 16,000 feet with vivaminutiae!