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Vonage In The News
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Vonage, a VT2142 and a RTP300, My Experiences - A Detailed Review
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Engineer Likes To Play On Land, Sky And Sea


Vonage In Print News

Engineer Likes To Play On Land, Sky And Sea

April 1, 2004

By Josh Long

In Rio de Janeiro, it is not uncommon to see a paraglider soaring above the city.

Dan Rodrigues grew up in Brazil, but it was not until he attended college in New Jersey, that he began paragliding by himself. Two years later, he became an instructor.

Asked what paragliding feels like, 33-year-old Rodrigues says it is hard to explain.

"If you don't do it, you'd never know it," he says. "It's like you gained an extra sense when you learn to fly" -- like walking.

"Imagine," he reflects, "if you never knew how to walk."

It is inaccurate to put Rodrigues solely into the category of a die-hard paraglider. His interests span the land, sky and seas.

Many of his hobbies date back to his childhood.

In Rio de Janeiro, "you surf, you paraglide, or you fight jujitsu," Rodrigues, a voicemail engineer with Vonage Holdings Corp., explains. "I do all three."

In 1992, the Brazilian native stayed with his cousin Melinda in New Jersey to hone his guitar skills. He planned to stay in the U.S. for six months, but the guitar instructors he sought were not available. Rodrigues put away his guitar and took out his camera. He attended the International Center of Photography in New York City for a year, where he subsequently became a teaching assistant in 1993.

Two years later, Rodrigues attended Rutgers University to finish his degree in music. He ended up earning a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science.

At Rutgers, the college student who had flown single-engine planes with an instructor at age 17 began paragliding. Paragliders, which were developed from parachuting canopies, do not fly as fast as a hang glider, Rodrigues says, but a paraglider can be stuffed in a backpack and it only takes a few minutes to set up.

Rodrigues says he never turned professional nor did he compete for prize money in the 1990s. But he has flown in places around the world, such as Brazil, France, Spain and the United States, including California, Idaho and along the East coast.

"Most of my travels in the past were just to go somewhere to fly a paraglider," he says.

A paragliding trip can be extremely short if the air is still -- straight down from the mountain -- but it also can last for hours depending on the air currents. Rodrigues says paragliders out West can rise as high as 18,000 feet, but by law, they must go no higher because they would be flying at the same elevation of commercial airliners.

"Once a year there is a festival in Colorado where traffic is redirected and people rise above that," he says.

During one rendezvous, Rodrigues navigated his paraglider for four hours as his girlfriend Claire (now his wife) watched from below for the first time. Landing at the same spot where he departed, Rodrigues asked Claire to drive his car down the mountain.

"She was very mad," says Rodrigues, who told her he would be in the sky for about 20 minutes.

Claire got lost -- from the air, Rodrigues could see her driving around --and the paraglider spent another two hours in flight.

Rodrigues says he hasn't been in the sky for nearly a year.

"I spend a lot of time with my kid now," he says of his 2 ˝-year-old son Gabriel. "I'm hoping that soon he will be old enough to understand that's his father coming from the air."

Meantime, Rodrigues has plenty of other hobbies to keep him occupied.

He is involved in kitesurfing, a new sport in which an athlete uses the power of a kite to propel a board across the water. He surfed from ages 14 to 22.

"When I came here [New Jersey] I was very disappointed because it's the same ocean but you don't have the same waves," says the Brazilian, explaining why he no longer surfs in the traditional sense.

Rodrigues says he also dives frequently off the coast of New Jersey, and has plunged as far as 140 feet beneath the surface.

His other hobby dates back to his childhood: martial arts. Rodrigues fights weekly in Brazilian jujitsu and aikido clubs. A blackbelt in jujitsu and judo herself, Claire supports her husband's hobbies.

"I don't just like to sit home and watch TV," says Rodrigues, who admits becoming a couch potato is not an impossibility. "I can fall into that bad habit really quick."



 
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†AK and HI residents pay $29.95 shipping. ††Limited time offer. Valid for residents of the United States (&DC), 18 years or older, who open new accounts. Offer good while supplies last and only on new account activations. One kit per account/household. Offer cannot be combined with any other discounts, promotions or plans and is not applicable to past purchases. Good while supplies last. Allow up to 2 weeks for shipping. Other restrictions may apply.

1Unlimited calling and other services for all residential plans are based on normal residential, personal, non-commercial use. A combination of factors is used to determine abnormal use, including but not limited to: the number of unique numbers called, calls forwarded, minutes used and other factors. Subject to our Reasonable Use Policy and Terms of Service.

2Shipping and activation fees waived with 1-year agreement. An Early Termination Fee (with periodic pro-rated reductions) applies if service is terminated before the end of the first 12 months. Additional restrictions may apply. See Terms of Service for details.

HIGH SPEED INTERNET REQUIRED. †VALID FOR NEW LINES ONLY. RATES EXCLUDE INTERNET SERVICE, SURCHARGES, FEES AND TAXES. DEVICE MAY BE REFURBISHED. If you subscribe to plans with monthly minutes allotments, all call minutes placed from both from your home and registered ExtensionsTM phones will count toward your monthly minutes allotment. ExtensionsTM calls made from mobiles use airtime and may incur surcharges, depending on your mobile plan. Alarms, TTY and other systems may not be compatible. Vonage 911 service operates differently than traditional 911. See www.vonage.com/911 for details.

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