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.