Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Lubrication

      Time to be sure the skis are ready for the new season.  It got me to thinking about waxing of skis as lubrication to makes things go more smoothly.   I began to think about this as a metaphor for for the functioning of our nation and our society.   What is the equivalent of wax in our society to make things move smoothly?  Unfortunately over the past four years we have seen what does not work.

    Thus I would like to focus on what I think does lubricate our society.    If we respect each other we will be on the right path.   Respect means we honor each person as worthy regardless of economic, social or racial identity.   We will avoid name calling.   We will seek to be empathetic.   We will support leadership that embraces values that enhances cooperation rather than combativeness.   We will foster character that we would want our children to emulate.   We will examine ourselves and seek to remove the lesser angels from our being.   

    I know that what I say next may offend some of my followers and friends but I need to speak my truth.   When truth is subjugated everyone suffers.   Our United States of America has been so assailed by lies that we have become immune to their effect.   This must change.  The very soul of our nation is at stake.   My hope is that there will be an age of enlightenment in the future.  May the grit of lies be replaced by love, respect and truth. I hope to live to see that day. 

Saturday, October 31, 2020

On Being Unaware

     We have lived in our present home for 12 years blithely assuming all was well with our water supply.   When we moved in I noticed there was a water softening system that was not in use.  It looked like it hadn't been used in years.  I assumed that the previous owners deemed it redundant for our municipal water supply.   Not so!

    While visiting our daughter several weeks ago, my wife noticed how much nicer her hair felt after washing in their water, which is soft water.   From that experience we became aware that maybe we had something wrong with the hardness of our water.   Why hadn't we thought of that before?  It is part of being unaware when something is obvious but we are seeing but not seeing.  For instance our coffee pots have routinely plugged up and required frequently cleaning.   The shower heads often have to be changed.  All these clues went flying by us.  

    The upshot of this awakening is a new water softening system.  Wow! What a change!  Every item that is using water has performed better from showers, to coffee making  to clothes washing.  

    There is more to this story.   We have a humidifier attached to our forced air furnace.  This was a new furnace installed in February of 2014.   For the past 6 plus years I have been oblivious to the need to replace the water pad (filter).     You can guess what the pad looked like after 6 years accumulation of hard water deposits.   What a mess!    Another awakening.   It took me several hours to remove the deposits from the frame holding the pad.   On top of that the drain tube was completely clogged with debris.   After a long soak in hot water and a little probing with a wired it was ready to be reinstalled.   Happily a new pad and fully functioning humidifier is in place.   I expect that with the new softener in place the replacement of the pad will be probably be on a season by season schedule.   To be sure of the maintenance I have entered a reminder into my Google Home smart speaker for a replacement at an appropriate time.    Isn't it amazing that things out of sight can be out of mind?  However even things in our sight on a daily basis may not register. 

    To be aware we need to be shaken up from time to time.  In our relationships things can be hidden too.   I am asking myself what calcifications are accumulating in my routine of daily life.?  Are there changes I could make to be more loving and caring both at home and in my social and societal activities?    In this time of political and pandemic chaos it behooves us all to look beneath the surface to see what need to be cleaned out and changed.  

    Finally a comment about the coming ski season.    On being unaware, I visited my home ski area of Greek Peak yesterday hoping to pick up my pre-paid season pass.  As we all know things on the ski slope will be different this year.    To my surprise the passes will not be available until the end of November.   Apparently with all the adjustments to comply with pandemic regulations, they have fallen behind on the routine activities.  Things will be different.   Sadly I do not see the usual coffee hours for our geezer group this year.   Probably locker room boot ups will be eliminated and we will be putting on our gear at our cars.  However, we should be able to social distance on the slopes.   We have spent years unaware of how fortunate we have been to have the freedom of social interaction in the pursuit of the sport we love.  I live with the hope that this crisis will pass and we will not necessarily return to a new normal, but will be  more aware  overall how fortunate we are with what we do have. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Rainy Days

     I have a love hate relationship with rainy days.   Right now at my home we are experiencing a nice rainstorm. During August and September we have had a drought and the lawn has suffered.   I welcome this precipitation that will revive my lawn and reduce my need to water the two apple trees I planted.

    When I was growing up on the farm, I often looked forward to a rainy day during the planting and growing seasons.  A rainy day was respite from the draining labors of farming!  As a young lad I welcomed the relief from both the heat and the tedium of our tasks.   I especially remember how glad I was to have rain when we were transplanting cabbage on a 90 degree day with the wind blowing dust in our faces.

    Having a rainy day wasn't always a relief from work on the farm.  A frequent task on the rainy day was to clean the barn.   I am not sure that this was entirely necessary or was it was another way for my father to keep me occupied.  It was a dusty, dirty job that I hated almost as much and field work.  Sometimes a more pleasant job was in store like maintaining or repairing machinery.   Best of all a trip to town was a treat that we all enjoyed.  Dad would have a beer and I would get a soda!

    Fast forward to the present time of my life and I think about the hate I have for rainy days during the ski seasons.  Over the last 20 years my records show a significant increase of rainy days  and definitely so in the last five years.   Climate change is taking its toll on the quality of our seasons, especially in the Northeast!  Even with rainproof gear, a day on the slopes with rain covering the goggles and running down your neck is not the greatest!  

    May it be so that our rain comes when we need it and holds off for the outdoor activities we enjoy both in winter in summer.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Tragedy

     I am a regular reader of the The Writer's Almanac by Garrison Keillor.  A few days ago I learned about Euripides.   His philosophy is summed up in part as follows.  "Tragedy isn't getting something or failing to get it, but it's losing something you already have."   This revelation resonated with me in many ways.  

    In the physical realm I am no longer in the mode of achieving great success in my piano playing or clarinet playing or becoming a competent tree skier,  or even raising my tennis to another level.  I accept that these are not tragedies, but I do see a tragedy down the road when I will likely reach a time when I will be unable to ski with the confidence I once had.   I don't want to play down the incentive to try new things in life, but I am truly ready to accept my limitations and attempt to hold onto things that are dear to me.

    In the larger world of the state of our United State of America I am deeply troubled by what we seem to be losing in our society.   We tragically have lost the sense of mutual care and respect.   Our nation has been taken down the path of divisiveness by our leadership.  Respectful norms of behavior have been trashed.   Leadership has chosen name calling and denigration over grace and charity.   Democracy as we have known it is perilously in danger of being destroyed.  If Euripides was around he would say, "You fools, why have you allowed this to happen?"   Meanwhile I struggle to maintain hope for a new day where the tragic sacrifice of 200,000 lives to incompetence and cruelty will be replaced by compassion and care.   Contrary to what Euripides said, unless we do get democracy restored in our nation it will be an enormous tragedy.



Monday, September 7, 2020

The View From My Exercise Bike


       I have a recumbent exercise bike in my sun room situated so I can see the nearby neighborhood street.  A great view through several windows.  Each day I spend an hour or so spinning with relatively light resistance.  During the exercise I typically read the Syracuse Post-Standard and The New York Times.   The reading is a diversion.   During the hour  I enjoy as well watching what it happening in the street.   We live in a quiet neighborhood with no through streets so the the auto traffic is minimal.   Therefore the streets are hospitable to pedestrians, bicyclers, and runners.   

    Each day I noice the regulars.  There is the usual couple leisurely walking in side by side.   Another is regular is the lady with the large brown dog on a leash always pulling to the length of the leash.  He  sniffs at my grass and of course occasionally makes a deposit.  We have good neighbors who do pick up after their dogs.

    Other than regulars are the visiting families with their strollers and perhaps another child or two.  They tend to be dawdlers taking in likely unfamiliar sights.  Recently I have watched a young male runner whipping by at a good pace.  We have waved recently when I have been out on my e-bike.    We do have a number of young bicyclers and scooter riders.   They remind me of the days when I was a young bicycler with my new Schwin bike obtained shortly after the end of WWII.  In today's world I worry about the youngsters that go by without helmets!  I groan and moan to my wife about this and also wonder why their parents are not concerned.  Ah well, the life of the curmudgeon geezer.

    I conclude if you open your eyes, you can always find ways to amuse yourself and engage the world.   Life is good!

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Is Cash Obselete?

    I recently read an article about the scarcity of coins in circulation.  Apparently during the pandemic people are not shopping as much with cash.   In recent years my payment process for shopping has been almost strictly credit cards.     It has been at least 10 or months since I have used cash.   I carry no coins and when I have no alternative but to use cash, the coins I get in change go directly to my wife.  She stills like to operate in the cash world.

    Along with the aversion to cash I am on a kick to avoid writing checks!   I love the process of setting up monthly bills for either credit cards or electronic bank transfers.  I can't remember the last time I ordered new checks.  The check providing company thinks I have fallen off the earth,

    Are the changes progress?   I certainly think so.  During my first international travel in the 70's  the standard payment process revolved around travelers' checks.   At the airport of the country of arrival one would go to a currency conversion kiosk and convert an appropriate amount of US Dollars to the local currency.    Before the European Union and the advent of the Euro that meant each country had their own currency.   Speaking of coins, I still have some Spanish, German, Dutch and Belgium coins of minor value.   What a blessing it was for later travel to simply pay with credit cards.

    Often geezers are heard to complain how things were great in the good old days.   I am not one of them.  I am delighted to have lived long enough to see progress on so many fronts.  And speaking of progress on many fronts I am reminded how many splendid improvements have been made in ski clothing and ski gear.   I am happy to see T-bars go obsolete.  Maybe in the shopping society the best thing could be for cash to become obsolete.

    

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Vernacular

     As a crossword puzzle solver I am both puzzled (pun intended)  and amazed by the plethora of word meanings even for common every day vernacular.    The word woke has come at me recently.  In conversation with a friend about our mutual concern over a social injustice, she exclaimed that I was a woke person.   Yes, one aware of social injustice.   I guess it is nice to have a word that sums up a lot meaning in one simple stroke.

    All this got me to thinking about how we interact in a multiple of professional, family, and social situations with a vernacular that we may or may not understand.   Communication if often stymied if the people do not have the same vocabulary or the same vernacular (dialect).     I am reminded of an experience over 50 years ago when I travelled with a Cornell engineering consultant  for  the poultry industry in New York State.  Hollis Davis was a bit of a character.  A rough and ready guy who broached no nonsense.  On our journey he was consulting with a poultry farmer who was planning new housing for his birds.   When we met, Hollis went about explaining how the structure should be built and the type of beams and trusses to be used in various locations in the structure.  The structural elements actually went by different names depending on the part of the state we were in.  As I observed their exchanges, I noticed that Hollis would check with the farmer every few sentences to see if he was comprehending his recommendations.  When the communications broke down,  Hollis would refer to the particular structural element with a different name.   One time I think he went through at least three names until the farmer understood what he was talking about.   For a neophyte like me,  it was a lesson in effective communication.

    Perhaps the moral of this screed is that we need to recognize who we are communicating with and use the correct vernacular for the situation.   When in conversation about skiing with people outside the skier fanatics,  I notice I will use terms that have little meaning to them.  Then it is time to check in and rephrase with interpretation of the vernacular  I have fallen into.  No wonder folks who learn English as a second language have trouble with our idioms and dialects.   Meanwhile I will continue to enjoy learning new words and new vernacular.   It is part of my entertainment during my pandemic isolation.