Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Skiers and Guns?

   On the recent anniversary of the Las Vegas massacre I am reminded how tragic it is that assault weapons are a ubiquitous part of our society.  At one time they were in my mind appropriately banned.  They are weapons of war not recreational devices for civil society.   I say this in view of my past life as a hunter growing up using rifles and shotguns to stalk game.  I had safety training at an early age and drilled in my psyche, was never point your gun at any person! 
     So it is a dilemma for me that one needs a gun if they are not hunter or a marksman.   The thought of living in a society where everyone is packing either concealed or otherwise abhors me.   To me that is living in fear!   I recognize many people in the USA have a different view.   However, what a price we pay in lives snuffed out by enraged gunmen and also so many gunshot injuries.   As a nation statistics show rampant loss of life and limb compared other countries with stricter gun control.   Statistics do not lie.  I am blessed to have not lost a loved one from gun violence.  However a high school classmate has lived most of his life with mental handicap from careless use of a pistol. 
    If you have read this far you probably are wondering how this connects with skiing?   Well, I am not sure either.   I would like to speculate that those of us who enjoy skiing are less likely to have the need to own an assault weapon or pack a pistol.   After all we already have some ski poles!   If we have a conflict we can duel with our ski poles!   Wouldn't that be a much better society?  I guarantee taking out our aggressions  with ski poles would result in far fewer deaths.

Monday, September 3, 2018

More Than A Geezer Skier- Honoring Achievement

      In a gathering of geezer skiers it would seem that the only thing that matters is skiing.  However in their other life these geezers have contributed to society in a multitude of ways.  They have been teachers, craftsmen, businessmen and workers is a variety of professions.
     Last week I had the privilege of attending a ribbon cutting ceremony for a new building for a business owned by my friend Frank Bonamie.  His pallet company supplies pallets for business throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico.   His clients include such giants as Coca-Cola and Walmart.   His special proprietary software tracks pallets from birth to death saving costs throughout their use. 
      Frank has Native American heritage connected to the Cayugas.   During the ribbon cutting ceremony speakers included area development advocates and a Native American chief providing an impressive and moving Native American blessing.  This ceremony marks 40 years of business that has grown  from operating in a small garage to the magnificent new facility.
      In addition to the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony this was a 90th birthday celebration for Frank.   We sang Happy Birthday and extended our best wishes to this legendary figure.  We were delighted to celebrate the success of his endeavors. 
     In closing, it is an honor to acknowledge his generosity toward his friends, his employees as well as his philanthropy in supporting Cornell University and the Native American Studies at that institution.
       Here are a few of the photos for this grand occasion.  Although Frank missed most of last season on the slopes we have enjoyed his company at geezer coffee hours and lunches.  All the best for the next season.
Ribbon Cutting 

Employees

Birthday Picture Collage Gift

Favorite Saying- Dealing With Adversity

Frank Cutting His Cake

One of His Long Haul Trucks



Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Tower Silo Monuments to the Past

  Since I live in a county where dairy production is the major agricultural enterprise, I am tuned into the trends in these businesses.  As a geezer, I have lived long enough to watch the number dairy farms decline at a precipitous rate.   In New York State in year 2000 there were 7615 dairy farms.  In 2016 the number was  4624 and continuing to decline.   For Cortland County New York where I now live in 2006 there were 143 dairies and by 2016 the number is 96.
    How do these changes impact what I see when I drive the countryside?   Today large dairies typically store huge quantities of forage in bunker silos.  In the past, however, smaller dairies stored forage in tower silos.  As these smaller dairies perish, the tower silos become monuments to the past.  Razing the silos seems to be a rare event.   Today I took a little tour within a few miles of our home, simply to photograph a few of these monuments.   Within ten minutes I passed over a dozen silos of varying designs and sizes.  All of them probably had not been filled in at least 10 or even 20 years. 
    In many respects these silos remain as forlorn objects of the past.  Having grown up on a farm I can imagine the angst of the farmers and their families as the next generation moves on from agriculture to other employment in society.  A whole way of life disappears.   Meanwhile,  I find there is a certain beauty to these monuments.  Perhaps we could consider them to be our Stone Henge equivalent for the 21st Century?   For the geezer me, I find it entertaining to look for the different numbers and types of unused tower silos.     And also to muse about the families and businesses that once thrived on those farms. 

     Here are a few examples of silo monuments.  Note the different designs and sizes! 
Concrete Stave Silos

Concrete Stave and Coated Steel
Galvanized Steel Panels - Likely from the 1960s.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Beyond Skiing

      This past Wednesday our geezer skier group gathered for an off season lunch at Greek Peak.  Usually after the ski season we rarely see each other since we go our separate ways to summer activities.  At the end of the season, I had the sense it would be good for us to get together occasionally to extend our socialization beyond the ski season.  We just might have a lot to talk about beyond the usual commentary about ski conditions.
       Seven of us gathered at the Hope Lodge Acorn Restaurant of the Greek Peak Resort.   My e-mail invitation sent out several weeks earlier rousted out at least a few of our group.  (We are looking to gather each second Wednesday of the month for the off-season.)    For an hour and a half we ate, drank and chatted with gusto.   Each one of us had a chance to swap stories of our recent activities and reveal something of who we are beyond our love of skiing.  We all have had an amazing array of experiences.  This has to be true since our youngest is in his upper seventies and our senior member is beyond 90. 
       There were an array of topics to be discussed.  Several geezers are military veterans in roles from grunts to officers.  For those of us who are not veterans it was interesting to hear of the impact of their service on their lives.  For several the service was a stepping stone to rewarding civilian careers.  Each person was encouraged to describe their career path.   It was a delight to learn of their experiences and accomplishments.  All in all, we were able to see multiple dimensions of our companions, well beyond our focus on skiing in our senior years.
     I am looking  forward to how this saga will continue.  Next lunch is June!
From what my wife tells me her women's group she has lunch with, gets into personal issues.  i.e. Sharing feelings etc.   As typical guys, that may be a stretch for our gatherings.  But who knows?  Now that we are beyond skiing, anything might happen!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Skiing and Agriculture: Weather Dependent

  It was a strange mid February ski day at Greek Peak.  In the midst of President's Week vacation the area has been struck with rain and near 70 F temperatures.  Only a small number of brave souls were out on the slopes.  I think I was the only geezer there. 
   Because I had no geezer companions to converse with on the lift, I had plenty of time to muse about the impact of weather on the ski resorts both presently and over all.  My childhood and teen years on the farm also brought back many memories of the impact of weather on the productivity of our crops and orchards.  There are a multitude of similarities of  the ski business and agribusiness.  If it doesn't snow it is hard to attract skiers and boarders.  If it doesn't rain at the right time on the farm, crops fail and income declines.   Both events can be mitigated, albeit at some cost to the businesses.  Making snow demands equipment, labor and energy as does agricultural irrigation.   Also their can be similar unmanageable weather that forgoes those mitigation's.
    Another similarity between the ski resort business and agribusiness is the wide swing in income from year to year.  On the farm we experienced feast and famine.  One year we would have great weather and bumper crops.  The next year could be a disaster from hail and wind storms and or pests and diseases.  Likewise there can be a year of great snow and conditions for a ski area followed by a year or sometimes two of a snow drought. 
     My geezer group of friends often get into a bitching session about the ski conditions and the vagaries of the management of the ski area.    Sometimes we are a bunch of crotchety old men.  When this happens, I wish I could be more positive in reminding ourselves that we are just blessed to be able to ski in our most senior years and we don't have the headaches of the ski area operators.   Again I am reminded of my farm background, that when bad things happen, the  tough get going and remain optimistic that next year will be a better year.   May it be so at my local ski area.   We truly are due for some fabulous ski seasons after the bummers we have had over the last three.
      There is an old joke about a farmer inheriting a fortune who was asked, "How long will you keep farming?"   The answer,  "Until the fortune is all gone!"  Seems like that is what is happening in East with ski resort operators now!


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Geezer Skier's Day

      I love haiku poetry.  Simple and straightforward structure appeals to me.  Five, seven and five syllables for a triplet of lines.  Here are three of them that captures my reflection on a geezer skier's day.   Readers, I hope you enjoy them.

See the morning light
Kick off the down blanket now
I’m up and with it

Skis waxed and ready
Kicking butt on the ski slope
Imbibed fresh snow joy

Sweet welcome at home
Kiss my dear ski widow bride

Inspired peace of soul

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A Non-Event

    A few days ago I read the professional magazine Resource which is the periodical organ of my professional society the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineering.   The entire issue was devoted to safety.   It was especially interesting to me because I have done work in safety of agricultural machinery; in particular agricultural tractors.  This issue presented a broad scope of standards and regulations for promulgating safety.   I was especially taken with an observation of what constitutes a non-event related to safety.   In short, the author described a farm transporting machinery down a road at dusk with all the appropriate flashing lights and warning signs in action encountering a van operator coming the other way.   They passed each other without incident.  Each went on their way safely.   The point is that standards and regulations create actions and devices that keep us safe from accident events and we should celebrate the many non-events that occur.
      So now that I have your attention, what does this have to do with skiing?   All this prompted me to doing some research on standards and regulations to promulgate safe skiing.   Remarkably, I discovered there are no federal regulation that apply to ski resort operation.   States have jurisdiction.   Therefore if you ski in several different states you will have to be aware of any special differences of that state.  As a skier where do you look for guidance on safety on the slopes?  I have found that the Snow Sports Safety Foundation provides some interesting insights.
      They have published a safety pyramid as shown below.

        Primary responsibility is with the participant.   The greatest onus is on the snow sports enthusiast to behave responsibly.  Next is personal equipment.  Binding checks and adjustment for instance.   Also helmets meeting a safety standard would be in this area.   Of course we also should expect resort operations and management that keeps us safe.   On that note as a geezer skier, my pet peeve is the hazard of snow making on an open slope.   My one most major injury was related to a snow making hazard.  Here is a quote from the Foundation about facilities management and operation that is relevant.

"The resorts appear to fear that any documented standards, safety plans or performance analysis could lead to a pubic expectation of accountability that would threaten continuing court enforcement  of the strong liability protections they enjoy. The resorts clearly value their liability protections over the safety of their patrons."
     
The base of the pyramid is public policy and so on.   There is really no public policy on safety, regulation is more or less state specific,  so that leaves case law as the base driving force for improvement in safety.  Unfortunately a skier or boarder who experiences an injury ostensibly due to a safety issue will have to sue to affect any change in safety standards.   


       Back to my opening on a non-event.   I was fortunate to ski for about 800 days of non-events before I had my most serious accident.   I would hope for more than that before my next crash.  For geezer skiers non-events are essential for our continued participation.   So advice to ourselves is minimize hazardous behavior,  wear a helmet and keep the gear in adjustment,   and be aware that the resort will protect their own interests ahead of our safety.