Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Lindsay Vonn
  It is evident that to have excellence in a project or an activity one has to pay attention to details.   The saying is "The devil is in the details".    Surely that is true for skiing too.   No matter how good a skier you become, it is necessary to pay attention to the details of edging and body position to achieve the perfect carve or gracefully negotiate the moguls and steeps.   Tiny variations in the line of the racer can mean the difference between making the medal podium or not.   It takes discipline to pay attention to details and I admire a skier like Pat Ryan who maintains regimen of good equipment maintenance and a warm up routine to sharpen the basic skiing skills.
   As I reflect on the ski experience at various ski areas during my skiing journey the memorable ski ares are the ones that paid attention to the details.   Some memorable areas are Okemo, Beaver Creek, and Snowbasin.   All of these places have grand designs and goals but at the same time they do not forget the details that make your visit comfortable.   To often I have skied at areas where the chairs seats are covered with snow and the lift personnel seem disinterested in their tasks.   I have never had to manage a ski area so I really don't know what prevents the attention to the details, but as I listen to the complaints of my fellow geezer skiers I find that there are often many easily corrected details that could be corrected with little cost.   So I wonder if the management of ski areas listens to the public.   I expect those areas that are tuned into the details of the skier's experience are the most successful.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Snow in The Wrong Place

   Today I anticipated skiing with daughter Viki and husband Matt.  They are now Long Islanders who don't get to ski very often so this was to be a special day on the slopes with this geezer.   Unfortunately the New York City morning weather report ruined their skiing opportunity.   Early this morning we all decided that it would be best if they were to fore go the ski outing and get on the road to beat the major storm home by early afternoon.   Thus, they were were on the road early and I headed for the slopes solo.    When I got home this afternoon a phone call verified they were safely home on Long Island.   So we are all grateful for a safe journey.

The Warmth of Sweater and Home
   Too bad the 12 to 14 inches of snow for New York City couldn't have landed on Greek Peak.   However, today's conditions were good and surprisingly the after Christmas crowd was relatively small. With all lifts running and much of the area open there was no waiting for loading.   The wind and cold obviously discouraged many of the more casual skiers.   I kept warm with my boot heaters, hand warmers and especially my new Christmas gift ski sweater layer from my wife.

    Our Christmas  day was joy filled with family, food, drink and plenty of good conversations.   And thankfully all travelled safely to their respective homes.   So now the after Christmas routine begins and let the snow fall on the ski areas.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Are You Hungry?

    I can never remember when I have had any period of going hungry in my life.   Although I grew up in relatively poor circumstances, even in the worst of times I had enough to eat.   Only in times of deliberate fasting have I felt any significant hunger pains.   Regrettably in these hard times many families in our area are finding it hard to put food on the table.   Therefore it is especially gratifying to  have participated in the Food Pantry drive by Greek Peak today.   Greek Peak provided free skiing for anyone bringing a can of food to the ski area.  What a great gift to both the skier and the community.    See the employees pictured below receiving and packing the food for the less fortunate of the community.
Food With a Smile
Packing the Bounty

The People Gather
  As you can imagine it the parking lot was full of cars and the slopes crawling with people.   For those of us that are mid-week skiers it was a different experience to share the slopes with the masses.   I arrived early before the 8:30 AM start and had an enjoyable two hour on all the different slopes as well as chatting with the not so frequent skiers.   A remarkable array of retro ski equipment was on display.   It was somewhat jarring to see the long straight skis and rear entry boots.   I also noted that the percentage of helmet wearing skiers and boarders was significantly lower than usual.   Since I was riding single on the lift, I had the pleasure of meeting a lot of good people.   A Japanese mechanical engineer, an Endicott construction worker,  and a young local automobile technician for example.    A cross section of fine folks enjoying the day.

  As I look forward to this Christmas Eve's  service I wish peace and good will to all people.   And along with these good wishes I challenge all to contribute to a better New Year for those who are less fortunate.   As you may know Bill Gates and Warrren Buffet have pledged to give away half their fortunes in their lifetimes.   A pledge I made to myself is less significant but I hope will in a modest way relieve hunger in my community and my goal is to donate a dollar a day in support of food pantry programs wherever I live.   And to those of you of adequate means I challenge you to do the same.

God bless us all.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Winter Wonderland

      I get so caught up in skiing the hill that I often fail to appreciate the beauty around me.   Today I  made a special effort to view my surroundings with an artist's eye.   It was an especially good day to spend time "smelling the roses".   Overnight the atmospheric conditions were appropriate to deposit ice crystals on the branches and twigs of the leafless trees.   The whole top of the area was a winter wonderland.   I tried to capture the beauty with my camera, but a photo doesn't do justice to the panorama that is captured by our vision.   Here are a couple of pictures although taken in color really appear almost entirely black and white.

   Perhaps it was the long ride time on the slow lift that was operating today that set me into the observations of my surroundings.   See below the lineup of the folks for the start of another ski day.
Merry Christmas  and Happy Holidays everyone and take time to find beauty wherever you may go.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The World of Skiing

Alpine Way -Thredbo Alpine Village - Australia
 December 21, 2010
   Many times when my geezer friends leave for the day I have different companions on the ride on the lift.   It is always interesting to have a seven minute conversation with someone you meet for the first time.   The usual mutual opening is, "How do you like the skiing today"  After a shared assessment of the conditions this often leads into,  "Where do you come from and how often do you get to ski here"?   Although many of us are relatively local to the ski area, I am often surprised that my riding companion may well come from a far distant land.   A couple of days ago a  young man joined me on the lift and I immediately noticed that his accent certainly wasn't  local.   In fact I was able to detect it was an Aussie accent.  G'day mate!   We had a mutually satisfying conversation about skiing and I had a chance to hear about his ski adventures down under.   Australia does have some skiing in New South Wales in the East of Australia but apparently the snowfall is erratic and can be quite wet.   He recommended skiing in New Zealand that would have consistently better conditions.   Meanwhile I learned in our brief interchange that while he has enjoyed both Canada the U.S. West for skiing, he was impressed with the facilities of Hope Lodge at Greek Peak Resort.   It was good to know that our Australian visitor had a good experience at our modest ski area.   Apparently his wife didn't need to ski all day and was able to really enjoy the spa treatment too!

   I conclude that I don't have to travel the world to meet folks from other countries.   All I have to do is spend time skiing in the solo mode and the world comes to me.   So skiing is a way to make us all feel like we are humans of one world.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Cornell December Graduation

   My  usual Saturday during ski season is getting up early to arrive at the ski slope for an 8:30 AM start of the day.  However, this past Saturday I delayed my trip to the slope to participated in the Cornell December Graduation events.   After arising at 6:30 AM I was able to get to the celebratory breakfast at the Cornell Statler Hotel and enjoy the continental breakfast with a graduate of my department's program and his family.   An opportunity to congratulate Ian Holst and his parents and wish Ian well in his search for a job.
   Following the breakfast I was off to Barton Hall to get my robe to be properly garbed for being a part of the faculty group in the procession into the seating area as a part of the ceremonies.   I recently purchased my own hood and cap so this was my inaugural use of some of my regalia.  (Perhaps I need to purchase the robe as well).  Before the ceremonies I had a chance to congratulate one of my advisees, Tyler Tauck and wish him well as he searches for just the right position.   Engineering graduates seem to be in demand now and I anticipate he will do well in his search.
Tyler Tauck - Environmental Engineering Grad
Colleague Norm Scott
   The ceremonies were well run and in 45 minutes we heard President Skorton congratulate the graduate and give them some good advice in both a serious and humorous vein.   The President of the Senior class also gave a brief and effective speech.   Each of the students names were called as they marched across the stage to get their diplomas and it was heart warming  to have them individually recognized.   I was especially moved by the award of a diploma to a motorized wheel chair bound student!
    Following the ceremony we enjoyed a reception with goodies and drinks of various kinds while family, friends and students took the many photographs needed to document and celebrate the occasion.
For me it was an enjoyable interlude with both student and faculty friends and a chance to chat with current faculty and even with a faculty member who had been a student in one of my classes in the late 70's.   Goodness, students do age too!!

   It was a great day for skiing as well and thankfully I was able to be on the slopes by 1:10 PM for an enjoyable sunny afternoon on the snow.    A very satisfying day.

Friday, December 17, 2010

How Good Am I Now?

Still on The Hill
     On the way to Ithaca this morning I tuned into my favorite country and western music station and heard the song "I Aint as Good as I Once Was" by Toby Keith.   The lyrics are basically a lament that time has passed and the cowboy still has the desire to drink, love and fight but albeit with a reduced ability to do so.   The fire is still there but the years have reduced the ability to perform.   As the years progress, I guess all of us geezers can identify with these laments.   We still have the fire but time has taken its toll on the body ( and maybe the mind too).
    I refuse to be melancholy about this state because the fire is still there and enjoying life in the senior years is still available along with making volunteer contributions to society.   While I am not as good as I once was, I still had a great day of tennis in the morning,  skiing this afternoon and the love of a fabulous wife.   I am not as good as I once was but in many ways life is better than it ever has been.
    As to my skiing ability in the past and my skiing ability at the present, I am satisfied that I am probably technically a better skier now than a I ever was years ago thanks to  better equipment and improved techniques.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ski Lift Loading

Smooth Transition?
   I am convinced that the ski experience is enhanced by excellence in ski lift loading by the lift operators.    Many of my best memories of skiing different resorts or ski areas are of the people loading the lift who had a smile their face and had a consummate skill of gracefully putting the chair under your butt in such a way you had a smooth and steady transition to a ride up the hill.    I especially remember one lift attendant at Okemo who made the process look like a ballet move as he managed the movement of the chair arriving at the awaiting skier.   Therefore, I find it difficult to accept a ski area management that pays little attention to the quality and training of the lift loaders.   Most of my geezer friends have suffered the potential of injury or bruising from the lack of attention to holding the chair properly as it swings into place.   I am not sure why this occurs so frequently.   Is it lack of training, lack of management oversight or simply boredom?   Why is it that some areas do this task so well where others are so deficient?
    I feel somewhat  guilty about being critical since I never had to work as a lift loader.   However, I do think excellence in this task can be rewarding to the individual and to the ski area.   Meanwhile, I will enjoy the areas and lift operators that do a good job and watch out for the careless operators to protect my body.  And as patrons of the areas it is our responsibility to express our thanks to those stalwart loaders that do a good job.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Good Gear Good Skiing

Semi-Fat Boards Ready Go
  This past week I had some interesting conversations with people riding with me on the lift about new gear and skiing.  Those of us who are geezers remember the days of primitive gear and the times of skiing with used equipment.   We still had a  passion for skiing but we sure abused our bodies with ill fitting boots and clunky skis.  Also, the clothing was not as functional as today's clothing and we had frozen and wet butts too many times.  Thankfully we now have affordable quality clothing and actually good quality used equipment available for the beginning skiers.   I think it would be wise for all rental shops at ski areas to have the best equipment possible for the novice skier with expert advice and fitting service.  The future of the ski areas is in bringing in the new crop and the best way to do that is to make the initial experience as good as possible.

  I used to say that good skiing is five percent skis and 95 percent the skier.  I think the equipment quality and design has improved so much that I am more inclined to think that equipment may well contribute up to 50 percent of the success today.   The really great skier can ski almost any kind of gear very well.  For us geezers and other mortals the right boots and skis makes a significant difference.   I consider myself fortunate to be at a place in my life where I can afford high quality gear.   Perhaps that is the advantage of geezerhood.  We have earned the right to play with better toys.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Geezers Reunite

Allen, Frank, Andy, and Gerry
 Yesterday many of the Tough Old Geezer Skiers showed up at Greek Peak for the first time for the season.   Pictured is a quartet of part of the group assembled at the morning coffee break.   All of us have had a good break from the end of season in the Spring until the start of our 2010-2011 season.   Frank is still building his new house which he soon hopes to occupy.   Andy probably spent part of the summer in his kayak and on maintaining snowmobile trails.  Allen must have been belly dancing for fitness although we didn't get a demonstration of Thursday.   My summer was full with tennis almost daily and in anticipation and participating in a couple of our children's weddings.

   We were all happy to be on the slopes again.   Each year some of the old guard fails to appear for one reason or another which is a bit sad.   It is good to remember the past stalwarts and the joy they experienced from skiing up to the end of their lives.   We are all thankful for modern medicine that keeps us going well beyond the three score and ten years we are supposedly allotted.   Our quartet has two eighty plus guys, on seventy plus and a youngster under 70.    I'll let you who figure out who fits those categories.    In my conversations with some of the other geezers at the hill I learn that over the summer there were cataract surgeries, knee replacements, and skin cancer removals.   Note that geezer skiers schedule their surgeries during the off ski season!

  As these early days of the season progresses more of the geezers will appear and our coffee break numbers will swell.   I'm looking forward to continuing reunion with geezer friends.  And for those that have passed on or terminated their skiing days,  the rest of us will ski in tribute to remember and honor their days on the slopes.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Getting the Christmas Tree

   From the time I was 5 years old I have been involved in getting a Christmas tree.   In my childhood we lived on a farm and the ritual was to go out into our own or with permission a neighbors woods and cut down a tree.   These were trees that could be pretty ugly.   No maintenance or trimming like the Christmas Tree farms of our modern era.   I especially remember a cedar tree one year that would match a Charlie Brown tree by orders of magnitude.   During WWII due to the war effort new lights were a rarity and early on I learned to cut and splice series strings of lights to reduce the rate of burn out of the bulbs.

    After marriage and the arrival of a family of my own the ritual became a trip to a tree farm and cutting the tree we selected.   Often this meant bundling up the children for the journey and many a trek through the tree farm to get the best one.   Usually we returned to the tree nearest our starting point as the best choice.  Then came the challenge of schlepping the tree to the car and fastening it to the roof.   This ritual went on through my two families and with the baby of the family arriving in 1985 the ritual kept going on for another 18 years.  However, the tree adventure became one of Nancy, Viki and me.   

    In recent years the Moore Tree Farm of Lansing, New York has become our tree supplier of choice.  Excellent products and great service.   However, in my geezerhood there are no children at home to join the Christmas tree search and Nancy has bowed out as well.    So I am left to making this journey on my own.   Yesterday was my day to visit the Moore Tree Farm and select the tree "with soft needles" and fitting for our high ceiling living room.   For the past several years I have avoided the trek into the plantation to cut my own.  I am now satisfied to select on of the pre-cut trees and have the attendants shake, wrap and carry it for me.   Perhaps that is another way you can tell you've become a geezer.

    I have carried the beautiful Fraser Fir tree home and wrestled it in place on the tree stand.  The lights and decorations have just been installed and it beautifies our living space.   Nancy and I, however are having the discussion about next year's tree.   We are seriously considering getting an artificial tree when they go on sale after Christmas.    I never thought that I would ever think that would be a good idea, but certainly that could be an advantage.  No mess, no fuss, and probably more economical in the long run.   With the price of today's natural tree over $60 it may be time to make a change.   Then my getting the tree ritual will simply be going to the storage room in the basement and carrying the box up stairs.    Conserving energy to go to the ski slopes sounds like a good idea to me.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Remembering Pearl Harbor

   I was only six years old when the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred.  However 69 years later I still have vivid memories of the radio announcement and the reaction of my parents to the news.   The shock and anxiety expressed by my parents was disturbing to a young lad.   Today, I have reflected on the geezers who are the survivors of the attack and all those geezers that served so bravely in the conflict that followed.    I think of Lyle Noody of a neighbor family who was wounded by a grenade in the Pacific war.  And I again mourn the death of the Raymer boy who died on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day at the tender age of 18.   As civilians during World War II we too made some sacrifices.   Rationing of certain goods was the rule of the day.   Fortunately we were essentially safe from bombs and bullets.

  So on this day that will go down in infamy I salute all you surviving geezer veterans and say thank you for your sacrifice.   I am pleased to say that I  have had the opportunity to ski with some of you in the past and continue to ski with some of you each year.   Many veterans learned to ski as part of the 10th Mountain Division and others who were stationed in the Alps also learned to ski for recreation.  My wife's father Tommy Poole was a Chaplain during WW II and learned to ski in Switzerland.   Perhaps it is an irony that the war introduced many men to the sport of skiing that could become a pleasurable passion for the rest of their lives.

   Thank you veteran geezers from all of us that benefited from your sacrifice.   My we learn in this day to return to the values of sacrifice that sustained us in WW II to enable us to finish the battle against the terrorists of today.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Opening Day - 2010

Opening Day on The Snow - 2010 Greek Peak
    Hooray!!  Opening day at Greek Peak so the 2010-2011 season is under way for my local ski area.   A combination of natural snow overnight and previous snow making provided two runs for a decent beginning of the season.   More snow is on the way but they will wait until Friday to reopen.  I'll have to savor the few hours of today in anticipation of more of the area opening on Friday.

   Only a few geezers appeared today.   Many of my cohorts are not interested in coping with the early season conditions.  Typically there are snow guns going and for some too many bodies on the hill.  For the first day I restrained my enthusiasm and skied conservatively.   Although I am active through walking and tennis,  skiing seems to challenge a new set of muscles.    It was an enjoyable afternoon in 24 deg F temperatures with some natural snow falling as well.   I expect the Tough Old Geezer Skiers to show up Friday.   Time to share stories and renew friendships and sip the $1.00 senior rate coffee.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Looking - Not Seeing

A Red Straw is Hidden Here: Hint - Examine the Rod
     Recently we have had two scavenger hunts in our home.  One at our family Thanksgiving gathering and the other last night with our dinner party guests.   My wife, Nancy is an expert at setting up a challenging scavenger hunt that frustrates the best searchers and observers.   I didn't participate in the Thanksgiving hunt and simply enjoyed hearing the comments of the family members as they struggled to find the items essentially hidden in plain sight albeit in a camouflaged way.   Last night I tried my hand at finding a red straw, plastic spoon, cork, ruby ring, ribbon, rubber band, shoelace, beaded necklace and skewer in our living room area.   This is my home territory and one would think I could find them rather easily.   No way!!  To be honest, I could  only find one of the items on my own.   It is amazing how a person can look but not see things.  The guests we more successful than I was but no one was able to find all items.   It was an entertaining time for all of us and a great thing to do after having a delicious dinner that Nancy had prepared.   Good exercise and good for the digestion.

Recent Decorative Piece
    All this makes me wonder about how many elements we miss in life because they are camouflaged from us either by their location or our lack of focus.   Not only do we miss physical things by our lack of observation  but we also miss relational, social and political nuances.   I will confess often being so single minded about some things that I miss what is going on around me.   Is that also one of the things that identify a geezer?   Loss of the observant self?   Thank heavens that my wife is tolerant of my cluelessness.   Nancy occasionally adds some new item to our decor that I might notice weeks later.

   In closing to emphasize the challenge of the scavenger hunt, I challenge you to find the red straw in the photograph at the top of this blog.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Jumping Geezer

Allen Bushnell -Flying Norwegian
    Yesterday I received an E-Mail from my geezer friend Allen Bushnell with a photo of a ski jumper attached.   The photo (see above) was from his days of ski jumping in Wisconsin probably 60 or more years ago.   Over many years Allen has regaled me about his adventures as a ski jumper and the fact he never got the recognition he deserves for his youthful exploits.  Allen, maybe those many falls on your head has addled your memory of those days.  However, hats off to anyone that has the courage to go off a ski jump and sail into a crash landing on the run out.   I have heard from Allen the tragedies of sailing too long and landing hard on the flat.

    Allen, you are a most interesting geezer and we all honor you for your exploits both on the ski hill and off.   Allen was drafted during WWII as a skinny little kid and matured with duty in the U.S. Navy. A talented artist he was able to get duty using his skills after he had suffered the indignity of garbage scow work.   Upon leaving the Navy he was educated in design,  had his own design business and later gravitated to teaching both at the Crane School of Design in Milwaukee and later with a distinguished career at Cornell University.   He had the good sense to marry Ruth who deserves sainthood for keeping him in line for over 50 years (I think).   He and Ruth have raised three boys David, Peter, and Paul that are outstanding citizens and professionals.  Two engineers and one architect.

   As an 80 plus geezer Allen he is a highly disciplined physical fitness guy.    At our coffee breaks on the hill at Greek Peak he keeps trying to teach us belly dancing  with the claim it is great for the abdominals.     We should all be as fit as Allen at 80 plus.   Keep flying Allen, even if it is only down the slopes at Greek Peak and I'll keep listening to your stories on the lift just as long as you finish them when we unload.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


     In Greek mythology the Muses are the goddesses that embody the inspiration for creation of literature and the arts. While nine Muses are considered to embody all the facets of this creation, there is Roman thought that three Muses would be sufficient and would be, Melete for Practice, Mneme for Memory and Aoide for Song. Recently I have been expanding on my memoirs that I started writing about five years ago so my muse for the moment is Mneme for memory.   The original purpose of my memoirs was to leave my personal autobiography for the benefit of my children and grandchildren if they were so moved to learn more about their ancestry through my recollections.  Five years later, I am more inclined to make the memoir more of a professional chronology.    However, I hope to include sufficient human interest stories that portray some of my human side along with the intellectual character.  

     Presidents and other famous people have written memoirs that have been best sellers and have told their stories with their slant.   I do not expect any book deals but I will be able to give my slant on my life to this point.   I believe that each of us has a desire to have lived a meaningful life with a legacy that at least is appreciated by ones family and friends.   Most of us do not consciously manage our lives with a particular legacy in mind.   However, I do believe that we mostly have a desire to live with honesty and integrity.    I follow the comic strip Non-Sequitur and have been amused by the child character Danae recently as she writes her prescient autobiography.   Essentially she is writing her future as she wants it to be as if it will occur as she writes it.   An intriguing idea.    Maybe this is a good way for youth to set goals to live out for the future.   I am going to think about that as I contemplate the remainder of my senior years too.   Meanwhile, I will keep working on the memoirs.   (Today, maybe a good time to reflect on Thanksgiving celebrations of the past). 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Joy of Innocence

A Children's Church Time
    There was an especially large participation of the young kids at church today.   The children's choir sang a song and the Children's Chimers did a piece as well.   There were solos by several of the youngsters and the solos were remarkably well done.   One could not be helped being moved by the joy in their faces and also the joy of the congregation and the parents.    I was deeply moved by both their exuberance and obvious innocence of the worlds ills.

    Perhaps one the the challenges of aging is the loss of innocence.   Finding the same joy in life that children experience sometimes gets lost in our aches, pains and worries of the world.   It was good today to glimpse the purity of life that springs from innocence.   Jesus reminded us that one should enter the Kingdom of Heaven as little children.   I guess that we get a glimpse of the heavenly experience as we observe our young children.   Anyway, I may not have been overwhelmingly renewed by the sermon and communion, but I think I got a blink of insight into the bliss of heaven through the children today.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Advisor Legend

Wesley F. Buchele
Professor Emeritus -ISU
  I recently ran across an article about my doctoral program advisor Wesley F. Buchele.  He has received an award from   The Product Design and Development Magazine as an inductee to the PD &D Design Engineer Hall of Fame.   At 90 Dr. Buchele continues to be engaged in the world with nearly as much vigor as I observed 45 years ago during my studies at Iowa State University.   After retiring in 1989 with 37 years on the faculty he continues to be a consultant  on engineering issues particularly dealing with machinery safety.  He is an inventive fellow with insatiable curiosity.   He often comes up with off the wall ideas that challenge your thinking.  Often in those ideas there are gems that can very inspiring.  His mantra was that you needn't to have a bundle of ideas to generate a few good ones.   Brainstorming and creativity were demanded in his graduate agricultural machinery class.   One exercise was to create a work of art that illustrated the processes of a particular agricultural machine.   My contribution along with classmate George Ayres was a mobile that we got to display in the lobby of the ISU agricultural engineering building.

   We had a very cordial relationship throughout my years under his tutelage and as my career progressed I continued to appreciate his inspiration for creative engineering design.  Especially as my research pursued the development of various fruit and vegetable harvesting machines.   In addition, I enjoyed following his techniques in teaching my students how to produce inventive ideas.

  Best wishes to the ultimate geezer advisor and inventor, Dr. Wesley F.Buchele.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Run, Jog, Walk

   I have never been much of a runner for exercise or for any other reason.  I think body type has a lot to do with ones inclination to be a runner.   Marathoners seem to have a lanky body with small torsos but the sprinters seem to be much heavier.   Therefore a certain body type predisposes the running capability of a person.    I have had to adapt my exercise to being more of a jogger and walker.  Particularly as I have moved into geezerhood.

   In lieu of tennis or skiing not being available today I decided to travel a significant distance by foot.    My goal was to complete a significant loop of distance in my neighborhood that includes several hills.   Since running does not work for me I adopted a jog and walk scheme.   Telephone poles all along my roads set up a routine of jogging for a telephone pole interval followed by walking the next interval.   The good news is that I was able to maintain that pace on the level, climbing a hill and descending a hill.   It was a good workout and I didn't have to call my wife as backup to pick me up.

   I guess the geezer fate is to move from running to jogging to walking.   Perhaps the final stage is a shuffle.    If I reach that stage someday I hope I still have enough sense of humor to laugh at myself as have laughed at comedian Tim Conway in his character of an inept old man.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Rocks, Blocks and Docs

   For exercise today I decided to use my backpack to move some rocks.   Carrying about 70 pounds in the pack at a time for perhaps a quarter of a mile before reloading worked up a good sweat.   Three quarters of an hour of this activity was a good work out.   In my solitude  a memory came to me of our beloved family doctor for many years, John Ferger, of a long standing practice in Dryden, NY.   Dr. Ferger along with his wife Martha, was an avid outdoors person as well a fine and gentle humanitarian.  He continued to practice medicine at least part time well into his 80's and in fact passed away on a day that he planned to be in the office.

    Moving rocks in the backpack reminded me that Dr. Ferger would train for his backpacking trips into the wilderness by loading his backpack with at least one concrete  block and go out for a long hike to build up his endurance.  One would see him trudging down one of the streets or roads in Dryden, bent on improving his conditioning in anticipation of his next wilderness adventure.    He lived well into geezerhood, although he didn't match the longevity of his parents who lived into their 90's.

  As our family doctor, we were blessed with his empathetic care through many good and difficult times.   Nancy and I especially have a fondness for him since he provided pre-natal care for Nancy and attended the birth of our daughter Victoria.    I had the joy of participating with Dr. Ferger in the care of Victoria after her immediate birth and especially remember him handing her over to me to hold the first time.

    So I honor the memory of Dr. Ferger and delight in his long and exceptional life.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hoops Times

That's Me Third From the Right -North Rose 1952
   The college and high school basketball seasons are nearly upon us.   There is a lot of buzz around the Cornell Men's team as a follow up to last year's team run to the Sweet Sixteen.   With eight seniors departing along with the head coach, it is going to be a whole new ball game this season.

   I have fond memories of high school basketball even if I wasn't much of a contributor.   A little JV time and then a little bit in the senior year when we made it to the sectionals.   In my freshman year I tried to be a walk on at Syracuse University.   What a  shock.   The scholarship players were in mid season condition and walked all over the walk-ons.   After a few practices I was beat up enough and wise enough to recognize I had little chance of even being the fifteenth man.   At Cornell after my transfer, I had lots of fun playing intramural league hoops.   Our team was competitive in the league, although we didn't make it to the championships.

   In my adult years at Cornell as a member of the faculty I had enjoyed many noon hours of pickup basketball at both Teagle and Barton Halls.   There were some great guys and sometime gals playing the game for the pure joy of participating.  It was quite competitive since the teams playing were challenged by sideline teams.  Thus to keep up your exercise you always wanted to win.   Fouls were self-called and  sportsmanship demanded that you did not get Mickey-Mouse about the calls.   It is amazing that some the guys I played with are now deceased.    One day, when the teams were being picked, I was one of the potential players when I heard the following statement.   "Lets, take that old guy over there".   I looked around and lo and behold they were talking about me.   At the time I was in my late 40's and suddenly realized that the 20 somethings saw me as an old guy.   I didn't let it stop me from enjoying game and many of us "old guys" had enough team savvy to often win against the hot shot one on one team.   I played until I was 60 but the loss of a kidney that year ended my playing days.   Although I recovered from my illness my doctor recommended I give up the sport because of the potential physical contact.

     Recently a young graduate student Scott Cloutier of my academic department contacted me about the basketball culture at Cornell.  He is an avid amateur player interested in finding regular games.   I was pleased to lead him to the Barton Hall pick up games that are going on 15 years after I left those courts.  The good news is that he has found a place to play regularly Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 12:00-1:30PM.   Have fun Scott and may you keep playing into geezerhood.   I know that some of my contemporaries are still playing the three on three version at the Senior Games.  More power to the geezers.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Utah in February

    Last year's trip to ski in Utah in February  2010 was a great time in spite of the horrible foul up of the return trip that took two days.   Plan's for February 2011 and coming together and I look forward to skiing the "greatest snow on earth" again.   Fortunately my son Colin has a condominium at the foot of Little Cottonwood Canyon that he makes available for family members so I will not only have access to the great skiing at Snowbird and Alta but also have a chance to ski with grandchildren.     And for this geezer a day at Snowbasin will also be on the agenda.

   In my exchange of e-mails with Colin today, I discover he already has two days of skiing in for the season.   The first day was in October and another day more recently in November he had another day.  These were days of hiking and skiing at Mad River Glen.   I would say he is a fully engaged skier.    My days are coming and since he is still employed, I expect to equal and surpass his days on the slopes.

   Meanwhile one can only hope that we will have early cold and snow in upstate New York.

Monday, November 8, 2010


    I must confess that I have never been able to appreciate opera.  However,  today NPR had a piece on Placido Domingo who has performed Othello over 200 times and is regarded one of the greatest tenors of all time;  especially for his passionate rendering of his role in Othello.   As I listened to his voice today, I could appreciate how great a singer he is.   I used to listen to the Metropolitan Opera on the radio when Texaco was the sponsor and on occasion I could appreciate the mastery of the operatic style but never found that it thrilled me as much as what I heard today.   As I reviewed Domingo's biography I was impressed that he continues to be so great at age 69, well after many of his contemporaries have retired.

   At lunch today I quizzed one of my colleagues about the path that led him to enjoying opera.    He typically travels from Ithaca, NY to Chicago and New York City to attend operatic performances several times a year.   He comes from a Nebraska farm background but does have musical skills that placed him in an Army Band during his military service.  Thus he has some built in musical knowledge and the subsequent appreciation.    As he related to me his experience with opera he explained that it was coincidental that he became an opera fan.   By chance he attended an opera while attending the University of Minnesota and eventually acquired a taste for the drama and music.   He observed that one must really see and hear an opera as it is performed live to really appreciate the magnificence of this art form.   Perhaps that is the reason I have failed to acquire a taste for operas.   Maybe I ought to put that on my bucket list.   I don't want to be too crass, but maybe it is like one acquiring a taste for beer!

    I don't want to offend Mr. Domingo, but I think he qualifies as geezer singer in the same way that Bret Favre qualifies as a geezer quarterback.   They both have exceeded the normal age of active performance with excellence in their professions.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Puns, Anagrams and Limericks

     I enjoy hearing puns and creating my own puns.   Sometimes puns are groaners but often they are subtle twists on meaning that can be both amusing and thought provoking.  However, puns can be overdone.   Nancy and I encounter a particular individual on a regular basis who carries punning to an extreme.   Garrison Keillor points out that good comedy has to have the right timing.  Likewise with puns.   They can be amusing with the right timing, but without finesse they become groaners.   Fortunately I have Nancy to keep me in line.

   Recently my daughter gifted me with numerous reprint pages of the New York Times from the beginning of crossword puzzle pages in the 1940's until near present time.  I have enjoyed working these puzzles until I encountered one themed as Puns, and Anagrams.   The clues are mysteriously obscure and I am having a real struggle solving it.   I'll keep at it  but it is truly annoying not being able to figure it out.  Perhaps because it was created in 1943, I am out of tune with the thinking of that era.

   I discover that people who like puns also have a love for limericks.   I belong to that crowd.  Creating limerick poems can be a lot of fun.   Limericks have a reputation for being both risque and ribald  but there are many that are amusing without being either.  Here is one from Wikipedia.

"The limerick packs laughs anatomical
In space that is quite economical,
    But the good ones I've seen
    So seldom are clean,
And the clean ones so seldom are comical."

   I was working on an original one for a geezer skier but the creative juices don't seem to be working today so maybe another time.   Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


     I visited the annual ski sale for the Greek Peak Ski Club today.   My regular route to the slope is under construction and it looks like it will be in rough shape for winter travel.   The road is being widened and improved in many ways.  It is my favorite route  because as I come over the top of one of the hills I can see the slopes of Greek Peak in the distance.   And with that glimpse of the slopes my hands get sweaty and I anticipate the pleasure of sliding down those hills.   Even though, I would not be skiing today, it was thrilling to see the slopes with a small coating of snow at the top and to anticipate the good times to come.

   My visit to the sale was fun and a chance to chat with ski buddy Roger Pellerin to catch up on mutual activities.   I was able to get a new pair of poles to replace a pair that has one with a defective tip.  Also another pair of gloves was in order.   The thumbs on my gloves seem to wear out pretty quickly where I grip the poles.   It is also interesting to observe the patrons of the sale.  Especially those who are relatively new to the ski scene.   There is a lot of indecision about what it the right boot or ski and thankfully the ski club staff do a good job of guiding them through their decisions.   After picking up my season's pass it was time to go on home to bring out the ski gear.  My spacious basement provides hooks and hangers for the coat, pants and other gear to be at ready when the ski area opens.  All is well and here is hoping there will be an early start.   Let the snow fall!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ten Ways You Can Tell You Are a Geezer

     I have been musing on the signs that define me and others as  geezers.
1.   Young ladies now hold the door open for me.
2.   The hair of my ears grows faster and is more abundant than the hair on my head.
3.    I automatically get the senior discount.
4.    Cutting my toe nails challenges my flexibility.
5.   The clerks laugh when I offer my proof of age for purchase of beer.
6.   The major topic of conversation at the men's coffee klatsch is prostates and PSA.
7.   At a noisy party I have to read lips.
8.   I often start a story with "In my day we ---".
9.   For me an oldies song comes from the Big Band Era of the 40's and 50's.
10.  I try to share an experience with my newest son-in-law and discover it happened before he was born.

I'll keep thinking about other signs of geezerhood.   And I'll add them to the list if I can hold them in my brain until I get to my blog.  Woops! Maybe that is another sign of geezerhood - the short term memory problem.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Geezer Cars

     In today's Sunday paper Tom a Ray of the Car Guys of NPR had a question from a geezer about a geezer car.   The questioner indicated that his definition of a geezer car was a Buick with slushy steering and suspension.   A soft ride and not too crisp cornering.   He wanted advice on how to get the power windows to go up and down quickly since it was taking miles to get the window down for the toll booth.   Tom and Ray had some good advice and did suggest if the car was really old, maybe it was time to retire it.

   I don't know what others may define as a geezer car but I do know that the driver safety course from the AARP had a suggestion for the appropriate car for seniors.   Their advice was to go for a mid size sedan that had good all round visibility from the windows and mirrors.   We were advised to stay away from the monster boats like the Lincoln Continentals and the Cadillac's etc.   I checked out the parking lot where our class put their cars.   For the most part the geezer guys were driving big boats.  Twenty feet long and seven feet wide.   So much for the instructor's advice.  I doubt if any of them went out the next week to downsize their vehicles.   I think that most geezers grew up aspiring to have a bigger and more pretentious car and with sufficient success their dreams were fulfilled.    My most recent new car has been the mid-size 2009 Toyota Camry sedan.   Both big enough and small enough for this geezer.   And we all know this car has great acceleration!  

    Readers - I would be curious what models you think are geezer cars.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Weathering the Storm

Hurricane Tomas
     Storms have a way of disrupting the best laid plans.   Viki and Matt on their way to St. Lucia for the delayed honeymoon are stranded in Atlanta, Georgia awaiting tropical storm/hurricane Tomas to pass the island and head west into the Caribbean.   Needless to say, they are very disappointed and it is our hope that they will be able to get to St. Lucia soon and that the weather will improve.

     One never knows when a storm is going interrupt both ones plans and even your life.   Perhaps Viki could take some comfort in knowing that in the early 1980's a flood from a storm in Dryden, New York brought Nancy and I together as I volunteered to restore her inundated home.   We subsequently courted and married and remarkably we had Viki the recent bride.   Who knows what direction a storm will take you?  It may just be a passing annoyance that depresses you for the moment or it may send you in an altogether new direction.

   This particular problem for Viki has me reflecting on both the natural and personal storms of life that I have experienced.   As a lad on the farm I saw first hand what devastation a storm could wreak on crops.  One early November a hail storm ruined a good portion of our apple crop that was still on the trees.  And even damaged apples in crates in the orchard.   More than once our grain crops were flattened by wind and rain just before harvest.   In the perspective of time, we weathered those losses.

   I can think of some other storms that are welcomed if you are a skier.   A foot or so of new powder from a lingering snowstorm is a boon to the skier.  Not so good for some others though.

    Storms of life come in many other forms than simply natural disasters or annoying disruptions.  Loss of a job, illness, family conflicts and relationships can be very disruptive events for all of us.   I think that a measure of our character is how well we weather those storms.   With the help of friends, family and community I am convinced we can move on to the sunny side of life.  Yes we can!

   Meanwhile we will keep Matt and Viki in our thoughts and prayers and hope that their adventure will turn out all right and next week they will basking on the sunny white sands of St. Lucia.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Bounty of Agriculture

Red Empire Apples - Cornell Orchards
    Last night I dreamed about agriculture and the bounty of food production in the U.S.   I suppose that is not unusual since I have deep roots in agriculture through my childhood and later career as an agricultural engineer.    I think U.S. agriculture is truly amazing.   The bounty of food we have on our tables year around is stunning.   And while I applaud U.S. agriculture, I have to acknowledge we are also beneficiaries of the bounty of agriculture many other nations.   As we approach Thanksgiving we should pause to give thanks for our good fortune of the riches of food and fiber produced by agriculturalists world wide.

     In my reflections about agriculture as a follow on to my dream I tried identify all the various crops that I have personally harvested in my lifetime.   During my growing up on the farm these are the crops that I harvested.
Grains -  Wheat, Oats, Buckwheat - Wheat and oats were even harvested with a McCormick binder.

Vegetables - Carrots, Lettuce, Red Beets, Onions, Spinach, Potatoes, Tomatoes, Snap Beans,  Red Kidney Beans, Peas, Cabbage, Pumpkins - During World War II there was a huge demand for vegetables and our farm produced as much as we could with the labor we had available.  Harvesting required significant backbreaking labor.

Fruits - Apples, Peaches, Pears, Plums, Tart Cherries, Sweet Cherries, Elderberries, Currants, Grapes - As a general farm we grew a variety of fruits for many different markets.  All these products were harvested by hand labor.

     During my years as a teacher and researcher at Cornell I had the opportunity to mechanize the harvest of many fruits and vegetables.   I participated with a team of engineers and viticulturists in the creation of one of the first grape harvesters.   Other fruit and vegetable harvesting machines that I helped create were, apple harvesters, cabbage harvesters, blueberry harvesters, and lettuce harvesters.   Our cabbage harvester design continues to be the sole design manufactured in the world today.    Some of our work served to reduce the back breaking or stoop labor for the harvest of some crops.

     As we have become a non-agrarian society, most folks have lost all sense of what it takes to produce and provide food for our table.   I think it would be good therapy for everyone to spend a week or two on a working farm carrying out the tasks that are necessary to produce our food.   Meanwhile, be thankful.   Happy Thanksgiving all!


Wednesday, October 27, 2010


     Yesterday's devotion in the Upper Room was about being healed.   The scripture dealt with the women that pestered Jesus until he granted her request to heal her daughter.   The accompanying story was authored by a woman whose infant son had suddenly stopped breathing and had to be rushed to the hospital.   In that ensuing crisis she prayed out loud and aggressively as the physicians, EM T's and nurses handled the situation.   She was  probably obnoxious to some.   The good news is that her son revived and was completely all right.  You might say healed.

   This story brought to mind for me a flood of memories of the crisis with our own daughter Victoria.   At 14 months she developed an extraordinary high fever and went into convulsions.   A quick call to emergency services brought the ambulance and a quick trip to Cayuga Medical Center.   Nancy and I certainly were in prayer during this crisis.   We spent several days in anxiety and prayer as the unknown malady took its course.   To our delight within a day or so she woke up one morning showing interest in a toy and as it turned out completely healed!   To us a miracle since there was no evident diagnosis for the cause of the fever.

   I guess that each day there are many folks that are experiencing the joy of being healed.   And probably if we are honest about all of our situations we are all in the process of being healed of something,  Whether it may be emotional or physical trauma.   I am convinced that whatever your faith calling might be, that prayer has the possibility of healing and if not healing easing the pain of the malady.

   Among my group of long term senior friends there are three men that I pray for daily.   All three are in recovery and/or remission of cancer.   I doubt whether they know that I am praying for them, but that is of no matter since I am not the healer, but just a channel for God's grace if I am so honored.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

No Place Like Home

      Thursday we left for Long Island to visit recently married daughter and her husband at Carle Place, NY.   The visit was both a social time and a work session.  They have moved into their first house and since both of them are working professionals, their days are long and setting up the household takes a lot of extra energy.   So Nancy and I went to work as soon as we arrived.  Viki and Matt had a list of projects for us to do so we had some direction.  However, as veterans of making moves and setting up a new household, we were soon making decisions and storing items where we thought they could bring out later as they made all the many decisions of how they would want to arrange things.    There are 17 steps to the second floor and I think I made at least 50 trips up and down those stairs carrying box after box of stuff for office, bedroom and storage.   A challenge for my geezer back.   Fortunately, Tylenol eases the pain.
An Organized Kitchen in the New House

    As long time New York up-staters we are more accustomed to a slower paced life.   The hyper activity of the metropolitan area is exhausting for us.  Perhaps it is the challenge of navigating the heavy traffic of multi-lanes travelling at 60 to 70 miles per hour to get to our destination.   Although we worked hard, we also took time to enjoy seeing the youngsters and continuing our socialization with Viki's in-laws who we have come to appreciate and enjoy more and more.   We had the pleasure of a great Japanese restaurant on Thursday evening and a great family dinner with the in-laws and Viki and Matt in the somewhat more settled home on Friday.    Viki and Matt will continue to live into making their first house into a home that reflects their personalities and and desires.  Meanwhile we will continue to encourage their efforts and lend a hand when we can muster the energy to visit and work with them.

    Our journey home on Saturday was mostly uneventful in spite of a couple of traffic tie ups in the city and one accident scene on Route 17.   Nancy and I both agree that we are real homebodies.  We love the comfort and familiarity of our home in Cortland and the slower pace of our environs.   We both have the homing instinct and once we start for home from a visit we are much like E.T. in the movie.  We begin to say, "Home, Home, Home" with great yearning in our voices.   Meanwhile, we vow to become more comfortable dealing with the metropolitan area since it is clear our youngest is a big city girl now.

    For everyone there is no place like home wherever it may be.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rating Ski Resorts

Snowbasin Utah
       Yesterday I received Ski Magazines issue rating ski resorts.  It was interesting to compare my own impressions of the various resorts I had skied at with the ratings by the magazine.   I think that every skier has a different set of criteria for ski resort that best meet their needs.   The most important thing for me is lots of good snow with enough groomers to give me some relief and a variety of terrain and scenery to enjoy at my leisure.   I was pleased to find that if you are looking for the best snow Utah is the place to go.  I certainly agree with the raters on that one.   After skiing Alta, Snowbird and Snowbasin last year I have no doubt they have the greatest snow on earth.   And for the geezers,  Snowbasin has it all.   It is notable that Snowbasin has the highest rank for food service and I totally agree with that.

      In the East I really enjoy Mad River Glen as well as Okemo  though overall they do not rank as high as some of the other resorts.  Mad River Glen is great skiing at at a reasonable cost where the emphasis is on being a great skier in a dedicated family oriented setting.   Okemo is great for groomers and service.

     In the By the Numbers page of the Fall 2010 issue of Ski Magazine I note that New York State has the most ski resorts of any state at 48.  With 473 resorts in the U.S. that means New York has over 10 percent of the ski areas in the nation.   I have skied at eight of the New York areas so far.  I think I will put it on my bucket list to ski all the areas in New York State.   It could be interesting!

      Looking forward to the the 2010-2011 season.    Here's to an early start in upstate New York!! Happy skiing everyone wherever it may be.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Memories - A Patchwork Quilt

 United Methodist Church of Moravia Quilt Momento
     Wednesday night Nancy and I went to see the musical Church Basement Ladies 2 at the Merry Go Round Theater.    A delightful night of laughter and a bit of pathos to go with it.   In one of the scenes in the Second Act the young mother Beverly is presented with a lovely patchwork quilt to use for the christening of her infant daughter Katy.   The quilt had pieces of fabric representing the many stages of her life.  They included part of her recently deceased father's jeans, a blue ribbon she had won at a fair, a piece from her christening garment, etc.   Each piece brought back a poignant memory of her life and relationships to date.   I'll confess I was moved to tears.   Perhaps it was because of  my own flood of memories from my past and the recognition of the many fond memories I have of my life and the events in my children's and grand children's lives.

   As I age I recognize that the memories of the past that come to me are scraps of memories making up a patchwork of events in my life.   A memory here and a memory there that are a pieces of a much larger period of time and events.   As a whole these memories weave together to provide a wonderful collage or mosaic of both good, bad, satisfying and troubling thoughts of the past.   However, in the main I am delighted with my memory quilt.   It has been a good if not exceptional life of love and productivity.  I look forward to adding more memories to my patchwork quilt as these senior years roll on.    As we share with one another, I think it is good for us to share our patchwork quilts of memories.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Daily Bravery

     Lots of good news for the Chilean miners today.   As I write this blog 21 miners of the 33 have been rescued.   And the rescue operation seems to be going smoothly.   One has to admire the bravery of these miners.   As a person who is somewhat claustrophobic I can hardly bear to think what it must have been like to be confined deep in the earth for so long.    As one miner put it, "I was down in hell and reached up to God".

      I admire those  individuals that engage in occupations that require a daily bravery.   Among those occupations are  the military personnel, firemen, police officers, miners, and high steel construction workers.   Every day these people put on their gear or uniforms and face the probability of an unexpected hazard.   I salute their dedication.

     Meanwhile the rest of us in more mundane occupations face much lesser obstacles.   But all of us in one way or another have to have some level of daily bravery.  It may be as simple as confronting a conflict in the workplace or as complicated as making an ethical decision.   Although these may not be life threatening issues, these situations require being brave enough to live up to our potential.

   I guess daily bravery comes in all forms.   Staying true to ones self is the goal.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


     I enjoy having projects to work on.  Some projects can be completed in a day and others will go on for months or more.   Yesterday I was working on my plow project.   The plow project is to rehabilitate the Rau Model Plow Collection acquired by the first president of Cornell University Andrew D. White in Germany in 1868.   With the blessing of Ezra Cornell this collection of plow models has resided at Cornell since 1868.   I have been translating the directory from German to English, fixing and photographing the plow models and storing them in protective containers.   The annotated directory with photographs is almost finished and a narrative history of the model plow collection is nearly complete.  At the same time I am writing a narrative of the development of the design of the plow throughout  history.   The project is nearing completion and I will be happy to see the plow models go on display again in Riley-Robb Hall at Cornell University.   (I guess I have been slow at getting this project done, since I have been prodded to get a portion of the collection into the display cabinets.  My geezer prerogative has been to do this project at my pace!)

     Today I completed a physical project employing my practical engineering skills.  At the end of our driveway we have a culvert that  with ends in need some form of retaining wall to beautify them.   So today I cranked up my 75 year old geezer body to move stones, dig soil and lay up a retaining wall on one end of our culvert.   See before and after photos.    Good day for the job since it was relatively cool.
It is nice to have a physical project that has defined boundaries with a beginning and end in one day.


    Being engaged in projects is a good way to be upbeat about each day and to look forward to tomorrow.   And I get my wife Nancy to admire my handiwork too!