Sunday Sermon
Taming the Golem

I was planning on posting another "Questions of Faith" installment on Islam, but the saga of Zeus and his MTA boomerang continues...

This morning, the Olympian and I met at the 'rang field an hour before the Flock was due to arrive to learn how to throw our new Golem II MTAs. Mine had never been thrown, but the stick Zeus was throwing was the very same deadly implement that nearly took the NerdyGirl from us last week. My list of private nicknames for it included, "Head Hunter," "The Reaper," and "Brain Seeker." Naturally, I was a bit leery of being on the field when this exotic monster was being thrown, but Zeus and I agreed that we had to learn how to tune and throw these things someday.

Plywood MTAs

For those who are not familiar with obscure 'rang slang, MTA stands for "maximum time aloft." These sticks are made very thin, and tuned to garner maximum float time. The event consists of each competitor making 5 throws which are timed from release to catch - if you don't catch, you get a zero for that throw. The score for each player is the total of their best 3 times, and the longest cumulative time wins. The flight of a standard boomerang might last 5-10 seconds, while well-tuned MTAs frequently stay up there for 20-30 seconds. You have time to consider the flight, and walk - not run - to where it is coming down.

Tuning is the arcane science of tweaking a boomerang to get the desired flight characteristics. For MTAs, tuning consists mainly of bending and twisting the arms, while using important-sounding terms like "positive dihedral," and "increased angle of attack" which we only vaguely grasp.

When they are tuned well, they are a thing of beauty; they seem very alive, like some kind of bird looking for a place to land. When they are out of tune, or thrown incorrectly, or the wind shifts, or you don't hold your tongue just right - they come screaming down in a death spiral, swooping wildly back and forth or packing into the ground with a scary thud.

Despite it being quite cold we were getting some good flights. We would each throw, then discuss the next little bit of mangling that we thought our 'rangs needed to stay aloft just a bit longer. Just before the arrival of the rest of the Flock, I was having some good results with "negative dihedral on the tip of the dingle arm" - which basically means bending the short arm downward. Zeus decided to try that with the Head Hunter. He carefully applied downward pressure to the short arm, forcing the thin plywood into a slightly different shape, as we had been doing all morning. Maybe it was the chilly air, or the numerous hard landings that the Reaper had taken earlier that morning - or perhaps it was simply karma - but the tip of the dingle arm snapped off in the Olympian's hand.

No fanfare, no amazingly high throw that breaks itself against the cold earth - just a little snap and a quiet, "Damn." The NerdyGirl wasn't even there to witness the demise of her nemesis.

The break was clean and thus repairable, so the Brain Seeker will fly again, but it will no doubt, be a changed beast. The distribution of weight will be different, the profile of the blade forever slightly changed. I like to think that it will be tamed by it's brush with death - a kinder, gentler, MTA. Perhaps we'll rename it the "Second Chance," "Take Two," or "Resurrection."

Long time readers know that this is the part of the Sermon where I draw some not-so-clever parallel between this anecdote and the spiritual lesson hinted at in the title.

Not today.

This time, you all get to tell me the moral. What does the parable of the MTA mean?

Go in Peace.


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