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.