So, I took panoramic photos of the skies, dug up links to various local weather forecasts, took wind meter readings and called up a mentor.
Sent the photos, wx links and relayed real-time wind meter readings.
He asked me to give my assessment first, then he walked me through the criteria of what he looks at + notices in order to make a decision about whether conditions were within his personal risk profile to launch, fly + land.
He didn't make my decision for me, rather, he gave me the tools to make that decision for myself (hallmark of a stellar teacher by the way).
Develop quality mentors + feed them beers and food every now and then
This is an awesome student - or should we say "new pilot". You had a good idea of what you didn't know, and respected your newness and the complexity that is assessing conditions. You took initiative, and creatively problem solved the no-mentors-on-launch holdup.
AND... whoever that was that you called... they were A) available, and B) extremely generous with their time! To look at photos you sent, and talk through your assessments, and what they look for... that's not a 2 minute phone call! Doing this for/with you, either took them away from work... INCOME GENERATION FOR SURVIVAL OR PLAY... or from their time off, IE potential "me" time to recreate! They made a choice... to give you that time of theirs. You obviously get it, because you certainly sound appreciative of their assistance... but so many do not!
Your last line- "Develop quality mentors + feed them beers and food every now and then"
IMHO you don't even have to feed them a thing, just make sure they know you recognize and appreciate their contributions and sacrifices to help you have fun, or have fun without taking unnecessary risks. I've seen too many EXCELLENT mentors just get totally burned out by people who call up and say "is it flyable today?". Or there is almost the expectation that these mentoring individuals will wait to launch, delaying their flying (fun), until after they give assistance to the others on launch. Speaking personally, as soon as it feels like something someone expects me to do, rather than something I CHOOSE to do with my time out of kindness or passion for sharing flight... it leaves a really bad taste and makes me not want to do it in the future.
So... yea... DEVELOP (and maintain!) quality mentors!
The last part that needs mention... is that as mentors to tire or burn out... others need to step up and offer what they know. They don't need to know it all, or be the best pilot on the hill. Most any experienced pilot 'aught to know more than the new flock... they just need to have the willingness to share... AND make that willingness known. Like in the story above- the new pilot knew someone to call and send the pics to. Right now we have a gigantic lack of people stepping up to be new mentors, as the old guard seem to be burning out and stepping out of being so active with their advising...
Shut up and fly.