Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Duct (Duck) Tape Generation

    Who isn't familiar with duct (Duck) tape?    Literally hundreds of millions of people have used duct tape for an extraordinary variety of uses.   Even uses including evening gowns and tuxedos.   Duct tape was invented in 1942 by a predecessor company of Johnson and Johnson and found its first use as a seal for ammunition cases for World War II.    Thus my geezer generation has lived with duct tape for 70 years.   While we now identify this tape as duct tape, it was originally called "duck" tape.   The origin of "duck" comes from the apparent connection to a waterproof canvass material making up the backing for the tape.
    Duct tape literally has been a lifesaver in the U.S. Space program.   When the Apollo 13 moon mission had an explosion one of the CO2 scrubbers was disabled.   Life support for the astronauts was critically damaged unless the scrubber in the moon lander module could be used.    To enable the use of the lander module scrubber it was necessary to connect a round duct to a square duct.    If this could not be accomplished the astronauts were doomed.    As soon as NASA engineers determined there was duct tape aboard they knew they could come up with a solution.   Based on the known materials in the space ship they devised a transition piece use instruction manual covers and duct tape.   And we all know the rest of the story.
     Last February I encountered  a more mundane use of duct tape with no life threatening implications but with a geezer connection.   During a gondola ride to the top of the mountain at Snowbasin ski resort I met a local geezer skier with plenty of character.   His conversation was colorful and he was well known to the Ski Patrol person to his right.   There was no question he was a dedicated hard core geezer skier sporting craggy wrinkles and a gray stubble beard.    His ski parka showed significant wear with a patch or two as well as a few stains.   However, the most notable aspect of his attire was his ski gloves.   Almost everyone of the fingers were encircled with duct tape.    Clearly he was extending the life of his gear with duct tape.
Duct Tape Decoration
     In keeping with the frugality of the Snowbasin geezer I too have resorted to duct tape to extend the life of one of my favorite ski mittens.   I almost always wear through the thumbs of my ski gloves or mittens.   Duct tape to the rescue!   See above.   Yes, I am proud to be a member of the duct tape generation.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Encouragement for a Fellow Tough Old Geezer Skier

    All of us have been ill one time or another.   Whether it was a serious illness or one of those minor nagging few days of discomfort, it was always good to have good wishes from our friends and family.   Expressions of concern have a way of lifting our spirits and giving us the "hope that springs eternal".      
   In hopes that we can lift the spirits of our ailing geezer Allen Bushnell the TOGS gathered at Greek Peak today in the unity of sending an encouraging message to our friend and fellow skier.   A get well card signed by a dozen or so geezers will be in the mail tomorrow.    To remind Allen that we all are still kicking and to refresh his memory about how handsome we all are, we are sending  photos of our group at the top of Chair 1.    We all look forward to his return to skiing and the challenging conversations we have at our coffee breaks.  
          (Allen - if you are up to getting this blog on your iPad, here are some more photos).
Some of the Geezers

Coffee is Hot

Encouraging Notes

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Spring Skiing Springs Eternal

   Another day of spring skiing in January.   This has certainly been one of the most challenging ski seasons we have had in many years.   The wild swings of temperature have alternately dumped snow or melted snow with a passion.   Mostly it has melted snow and challenged the ski area to produce enough make up snow by snow making during the cold periods.   As Bob Fairbrother said as I was leaving my ski session today, "How do you like the Spring skiing?"   The answer is,  "It is all that we have so we should somehow enjoy it."
The Ugliness of Spring Conditions
   From Pope we know that "Hope springs eternal in the human breast.  Man never Is, but always To be blest."  (1732 Pope Essay on Man I. 95).  Perhaps that is where we are this season of skiing.  We have eternal hope for things working out for the best.  However, we are having difficulty in finding beauty on the slopes with the lack of snow.   But when we do have a nice snowfall by contrast we find new beauty and renewed hope.   Speaking of beauty, I recommend you Google a photo of the sculptor Rodin's statue titled Eternal Spring.  Absolutely beautiful!  Keep hoping!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Change of Pace

   During the time I lived in Fayetteville, NY I  was a frequent skier at Toggenburg.    Tog is a small area with great management and very friendly people.   Yesterday I had a chance to ski there after my dental appointment in Fayetteville and my breakfast in Chittenango with the ROMEO's (Retired Older Men Eating Out) from the Fayetteville United Methodist Church.
   It was nice to be welcomed by a cordial staff and received a free season pass as a 70+ skier.   Yes, there are really ski areas like Toggenburg that are that kind to tough old geezer skiers.   It was a cold, windy, snowy and foggy day.   A couple of inches of new snow on the firm granular surface ameliorated the bumpiness from the previous day's rain.   For some reason my goggles kept fogging on the inside.  Probably from the previous wet ski day on Tuesday at Greek Peak.   Toggenburg has a great restaurant aptly named The Foggy Goggle.    Especially appropriate for my situation.
    Another welcome surprise at Toggenburg was a new double chair installation over the summer.   It was one of the smoothest chair rides I have ever had.   The lift attendants are pros at loading.   No whacks in the back of the legs.   There were other improvements in the entrances to the lodge and as usual the food was excellent and reasonably priced.
The Toggenburg Restaurant
New Lift in the Foreground
    After a vigorous morning of skiing I enjoyed a delicious cup of chili while chatting with ski patrollers Walt Shepard and Tom Boyle.    Both patrollers are decades long patrollers at Tog.   They filled me in on changes in management and the fate of many of the geezer skiers I got to know from 2004 to 2008.   After a brief afternoon on the slopes it was time to head home enjoying the change of pace at a different ski area after 26 days at Greek Peak.   It will be fun to organize a visit to Toggenburg  by the Tough Old Geezer Skiers at Greek Peak.   Not as exciting as going west.  But you can't beat the convenience and the price!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Giving Credit - New Snow

   A few weeks ago I wrote a skiers lament.   A poem deploring the ugly ski conditions previous to Christmas.   To balance the lament I need to give credit for the improvement in conditions over the last couple of days.   A wonderful snowfall early Friday morning and throughout the day Friday produced a marvelous transformation of conditions.   And the additional snowfall overnight on Friday into Saturday was a bonus.   After skiing on crud for Thursday, Friday was a transformational  day with about 8 inches of new snow on the machine groomed base.   Although it was cloudy and snowy on Friday, it was a real pleasure to bomb silently through the snow up around the shins of my boots.   Saturday was even more pleasurable with an additional three inches of new snow, sunshine and smooth groomed base.   The scenery was fantastic as well with snow clothing the trees with wonderful winter beauty highlighted by occasional sunshine.   For the first time this season,  I exploited the capability of my new powder skies in a non groomed crossover trail where the snow was at least a foot deep.   The spate of low temperatures enables additional snow making.  Let's hope that the combination of mother nature and man made snow will give us a lasting base well into the end of March in spite of the slow start.
    With the improvement in conditions, the geezer group is beginning to enlarge.   For some this January storm is the trigger to get them on the slopes.   It is good to renew friendships with geezer past.   I hope we will have a record attendance of geezers at our Second Annual Geezer Skiers Luncheon in March.   Be there Geezers!

Snow and Skiers at the Base

Castor Trail - Snow Decorated Trees

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Big Red Ski Team Practices

   Yesterday I had the pleasure of watching the practice of the Cornell Big Red ski team,   Most of us geezers that have been skiing for a long time still want to learn to ski better.   Observing good examples of skiing is my favorite way of picking up tips to improve my skiing.   Numerous rides up the lift gave me an opportunity to rate the levels of performance of the Cornell skiers.   Since it is a club sport, anyone that comes out to ski with the team has a chance to participate, regardless of their level of skiing.   I think that this is a great way to give a lot of students a chance to be a part of a community of athletes without the fear of being cut from the roster.   That said, it is obvious that many of the racers are not likely to participate in the meets with other schools.  
   Because  I am an academic adviser for some Cornell students in my Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering I enjoy getting to know the hopes and dreams of these young people.   Therefore, whenever I get to share a lift ride with some of the team members (or their coach)  I like to lead them  into telling me their stories.   It is an enriching experience not only to hear their professional and personal stories but also to hear about their ski experiences and aspirations.   (And it sure makes the lift ride go by fast!)  Also this year one of my students Garrett Wafler has gone out for the ski team.   He tried his hand at crew but discovered the time commitment was beyond his desire.   I will look forward to his success with the ski team.
Coaching Tips

Smile for the Camera

Charge Those Gates
    Go Big Red!!  Have a great season!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ski Conditions - A Metaphor for Life

   Ski conditions vary.  If one has skied for a many years, you can recall all kinds of slope environments.   Many of the conditions are weather related.   There can be bright sunshine, cloudy days,  rain, sleet or fog and sometimes a huge snowstorm.   And the wind can be howling or calm while the temperature can range from  sub-zero to a balmy 50 degree F during spring skiing.    The slope surface can be frozen firm granular to many inches of soft powder.   Sometimes the slopes are groomed to perfection while other times lumps and bumps will jar your teeth out.

Great Conditions

Thin and "Bear"  It
     Just as ski conditions vary so can ones life conditions also vary.    At times all things are going well like the perfect day on the slopes with the sunshine beaming down and the skis running true.  Other times we can be suffering through family, health and personal troubles.  In a fog we may be seeking a way out just as we attempt to negotiate our way in the low visibility on a cloudy and foggy day on the slopes.   Skiers have a way of finding joy in the day on the slopes in spite of the conditions.   The joy is heightened with good conditions but conquering the difficult conditions can be a joy in itself.   I like to think that this is true of life too.   The optimist in me declares that whatever the situations we encounter there is opportunity to find joy.   Friends and family lift us up in the low times and friends and family celebrate with us in the up times.   Enjoy life and each moment of the day whatever the new day brings.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

More Room at the Table

     Finally we are getting enough snow to attract more geezers to the slopes.   Today the gathering of geezers at the coffee table mid-morning numbered up to eight.   See photos below.   I think it looks like a pretty happy and healthy bunch of geezers.   "Scooch" showed up too late to be included in the photos but we did mark him off on the attendance sheet.   I think the oldest is 83 and the youngest must be over 70.   We each have our unique personal story and idiosyncrasies.   The common thing we all share is the joy of skiing.  Even when the temperature is 5 degrees F as it was this morning!

Left to Right: Roger, Larry, Pat, Andy, Frank, Bob

Left to Right: Roger, Larry, Gerry, Andy, Frank, Bob
    The topics of discussion can be wide ranging.   Often the stories reach back into the 1950's and 1960's when we were each in our own way on huge learning curves in the workplace and life.  The more contemporary conversation tends to relate to medical procedures that many of us have experienced.   Cataract surgeries are compared along with the joy of restored clarity of vision.  (I will not write about some of the more intimate surgeries that some of us have suffered).   Often the discussion involves seeking advice about purchases of items and services.   Andy is on a kick to purchase a new high definition TV, so he got the whole spectrum of opinionated advice from his fellow geezers.   Early season sessions at the coffee break often are periods of catching up with the events of the past year.   Life milestones are shared.   Laughter is frequent, even if some of the jokes and stories are groaners.  Let's hope the size of the group continues to grow.  There is always more room at our table of tough old geezer skiers.