Sunday, December 29, 2013

Social Dynamics of Skiing

    A couple of events at the local ski area have given me an opportunity to muse about the social dynamics of skiing and ski areas.   First of all I am delighted to be associated with the Greek Peak resort that has a serious commitment to interaction with the local community.  Not only does the area employ a significant number of people especially during the ski season, but they also are sensitive to giving back to the less fortunate of the area.   Their support of the Adaptive Ski Program is one special give back.  And the annual free day of skiing on December 24 with a food item from each skier for the local food pantry is an enormous boost for that program.   It is a special delight to see the food items accumulate and the financial donation box also get its due.   See the photo below of the great folks who facilitate this food drive.
Food Crew At Work - Thank You!
    In another vein, I am enthralled with the impact of the new quad chair at Greek Peak.  This new facility has engendered a lot of smiles from the skiers.  We feel like we are now entering a new phase of finer skiing and obviously finer dining with the new Trax Restaurant.   I seem to recall that the management guru, Tom Peters once said examine the rest rooms of a a business and by their quality you can get an idea of the quality of the operation.  Thanks to the recent renovations at the Peak, it looks like we are on an upswing in quality.
    Now that I have had several rides on the new quad chair lift, mostly with strangers, I have encountered a new social dynamic of four people on a lift.   The question is, "How will the conversation flow with the group"?   I think this comes down to a mathematical study of combinations.   With four people on the chair I calculate there are twelve different pair interactions possible and even beyond that there are one to three and one to two interactions as well.   Thus a ride with four people can be a chaotic set of conversational exchange.   So what kind of socialization happens?   In one case the ride was almost dominated by one "loudmouth".   In other cases there were simultaneous paired conversation with two adjacent pairs.   And in a few cases the outer two even conversed across the inner two.   I imagine that there might even be silent rides.  Not likely!  How much simpler life is with a double chair.   And if you have ever had a ride on the single chair at Mad River Glen in Vermont you can just zone out or often what happens conversation travels chair to adjacent chair.    Perhaps I need to talk with sociologists, mathematicians and communications specialists to get their take on what is going on.   Meanwhile I will continue my field work observing the social dynamics of riding a quad lift.
Happy Foursome Leaving The Quad


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Jinx - Skiing Ugly

     The only way to describe the skiing this afternoon at Greek Peak is UGLY.   It is amazing that we could go from an absolutely perfect day of skiing on Thursday to plug ugly on Saturday afternoon.  It was raining, the visibility was poor, the goggles were covered with rain dots and the slope was dotted with signs of "thin and bare spots".   There has been an incredible loss of snow.   I even had to remove my skis to get to the Elysian Fields and  Karyotis.   Surprisingly Trojan had the best snow.
     So I think I placed a jinx on the weather when I bought snow tires this week!  This is the first year in 30 years that I decided to purchase snow tires for my car.   After we had such a consistent run of snowy roads I was convinced that this winter was going to be marked by a deluge of snow.   Some of my ski companions suggested that my purchase of snow tires shook the universe and as a result the rains have come.  Woe is me if that is true.
     Even though the skiing today was ugly, I am still enough of an avid skier that I can say even a bad day of skiing is still a good day!   And yes, I did tough it out long enough to declare it an "official day".   Enough runs to qualify for the official day designation.
Can You See a Skier on the Right Hand Slope?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Happy Anniversary -Pret and Nita

    The Goslee's had a good time skiing at Greek Peak today except for the disappearance of their car keys.  It was my good fortune (and likely theirs)  to encounter them in the locker area as they were making a meticulous search for the missing keys.  Unfortunately the keys were not found.  Thus it was my pleasure to give them a ride to their home in Cortland to retrieve the spare keys.   It was a pleasurable time to catch up on news and swap stories of various items we have lost in our lifetimes.
    As we were parting, Pret said to me,  "This ride is an anniversary present".   Lo and behold, Pret and Nita will be celebrating their 64th Wedding Anniversary tomorrow!   Wow!  Blessings to both of you and may there continue to be many more to celebrate.   You both are heroes for the geezer community in so many ways.  God bless!
There They Go!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Trade Offs!

      Yesterday another geezer skier crashed on freshly made snow from the snow makers.   I have already written about snow maker anxiety caused by my own crash of January 2013.  So why do I return to this topic?   It is clear that skiing on a slope where snow making is in progress is a hazardous activity for many reasons.   (To be fair, the ski area does warn the skiers with a sign of "Caution Snow Making").   Even when you heed the warning it is often difficult to navigate the slope to avoid not only fellow skiers but also to compensate for the lack of visibility.   Goggles are frequently iced over no matter how careful you are passing the spate of new snow.   On a cloudy day it is also a challenge to read the snow surface for evidence of wet and sticky snow.
     I have outlined the hazards.   So, why do we continue to ski slopes with snow making in progress?   Both the ski area and the skiers are making trade offs.   The ski area wants our business and during the early season it is essential to keep the snow making going to build base.   Skiers want to be on the slope too and most are willing to take the risk of a crash.   At the beginning of the season it is probably reasonable to operate with the trade off between hazardous skiing versus no skiing at all.   However, I cannot fathom why a ski area would need to open a snow making slope to skiers during the rest of the season.   For my part, I will be very glad to see more slopes open up to relieve the risk of skiing through the snow makers.  
     Meanwhile, fellow geezers take to heart a cautious approach to the slopes with snow making.   And best wishes to Pat R. for a speedy recovery.   Certainly we all need to preserve these old geezer bodies for the sake of our loved ones!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Snow Maker Anxiety

   After my crash of last January 2013 on freshly made snow by a snow maker I am always a bit anxious skiing on a slope where snow making is in progress.    That was true today since both major slopes at Greek Peak had snow makers spewing out fresh snow.   For the most part we were able to avoid snow goggle icing, but one could never be sure how slippery the freshly made snow would be.   After last year's tragedy I had vowed I would never ski on a slope with snow making in progress.   So much for that vow today.   Since there were no other alternative slopes I had no other choice but the beginner's slope.
   So how did I justify breaking my vow?  The answer was caution for every turn approaching the snow making area.   Caution meant reading the snow surface, slowing down and raising my alert level to red!  Thankfully I had no mishaps.
   Early season skiing can be challenging and sometimes one wonders whether the risk is worth the reward.   If you don't press the envelope too far you can have a good time without injury.   The bright sunshine today also gave great visibility as a mitigating factor.
   It is one thing to ride a lift to access marginal conditions but would anyone hike to do the same?  Answer:  My son Colin chose to hike Mad River Glen today to ski a sheet of ice.   Ah yes the vigor of youth!
   Caution is always a good idea for geezer skiers.  Only a few geezers were on the slope today likely for that reason.   Here is hoping for more snow and better conditions.
2012-2013 Snow Making Day at Greek Peak

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


    As you travel around New York State you will encounter historical markers that were erected through a program of the State Education Department in the years 1926 to 1966.   After the program ceased in 1966 there was an effort to maintain a data base of the markers and some associations and organizations continue to erect new markers.  During the days of slower traffic it was possible to even read some of the signs.  However, to read the signs now you have to stop.   In many cases it is a dangerous action because often there is no road shoulder or pull off.   With the appearance of interstate highways, New York State instituted a program of erecting larger regional historical markers at highway rest stops where travelers could safely absorb history of a given region.
   I have become intrigued with reading historical markers wherever I encounter them when I travel.  During our across the USA journey this past July I often exasperated my wife with my commitment to reading and photographing them in the various states we visited.   And I didn't even stop for all of them I saw!!  It is a good thing we kept moving.
Mayo Clinic Historic Marker - Near Rochester, MN
   In the last few months I have had the urge to share the location and information about the New York State Historical Markers with others who might be interested in local history.   So I somewhat rashly decided to photograph all the historical markers in Cortland County.   My first cut was to search the data base for these markers and print off a list of the Cortland County markers.   With list in hand I began the trek to the location of each of the markers to make a photograph and to record the GPS coordinates.  My intent was to create a new data base with pictures and GPS coordinates.    Here is the irony of this endeavor.   By some random chance I Googled Cortland County Historical Markers and discovered that Google Maps had already created a data base of Cortland Country Historical markers with photos and GPS coordinates!   My enthusiasm for this new project hit a low point.   There are two ironies here.
   1.  Of all the counties in the whole United States one might select, Cortland County New York is the only county Google Maps has created a data base for.
   2.   I always warned my graduate students to do a thorough research of the literature before they embarked on a project.   Often someone has done the very thing you are proposing to do.
    Upon further research I also discovered the book, Sure Signs: Stories Behind The Historical Markers of Central New York by Howard S. Ford of  Skaneateles, New York.  There are no pictures nor are there GPS coordinates given by the author.  However, he has provided a narrative  history behind hundreds of sites.  While these narratives are valuable, there seems to be no coherent organization of the information.
   Now that I have gotten over my disappointment about pursuing the Cortland County historical marker data base I realize that there are many other counties in New York State that I can visit to create a pictorial data base of  their markers.   Blog readers, I welcome your nominations of a New York county to work on.   At the moment I am considering, Tompkins, Cayuga and Wayne counties.
   As I complete this blog, I see a whole lot of snow flakes coming down outside.   Needless to say this tough old geezer skier is likely to shelve any historical marker project until after the ski season.
    Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah to all!
Lat. 42.598714, Long. -76.159264
City of Cortland

Virgil - Lat. 42.508767, Long. -76.199519
Lat. 42.628083, Long. -76.152306
Route 13 North of Homer, NY


Friday, November 15, 2013

To Sow, To Reap

   Another growing season is complete and the harvest is underway.  There is a time to sow and there is a time to reap.  During my morning commutes for the last few weeks the fields corn show signs of the harvest.   Many fields have already been harvested and several others are still awaiting the combine.  The photos below shows the same fields I pictured in my May 31, 2013 blog Another Growing Season.  Another cycle of sowing and reaping is nearing a finish.   Our nation is indeed blessed with an abundance of fertile and productive land.  In addition we have a cadre of dedicated agriculturalists who effectively use the land and even preserve its productivity.  Recent changes in incentives for conservation and "factory" farms has introduced some areas to farming that simply mines the soil with little thought of maintaining the land in perpetuity. However, I hope that there will always be a majority or farmers dedicated to sustaining productivity for a hungry world.
Harvest Complete
Ready for the Combine
   In my commute I also pass by an industrial park situated on some of the most productive agricultural land of  Cortland County, New York.   In t he theme of sustainability and continued attention to quality food supply I am disturbed about the use of prime agricultural land for industrial development.  There is a finite amount of quality agricultural land so I fear that some day when it is too late we will recognize that we squandered some of that resource because of the convenience of lower cost construction and simpler infrastructure on level land.   However, back to the theme of sowing and reaping.   The photo below depicts the construction of a major yogurt manufacturing plant.   Perhaps one could call this a sowing of a structure that will demand more milk and thus dairy farmers will reap the harvest of expanded dairy operations and greater profits.  Trade offs?  Who knows?   One can only hope  there is a limit to expansion of industrial and commercial sites onto prime agricultural land.
   The corn will be harvested and the land will lie fallow until the next growing season.   Thankfully there are still miles of land in my commute that will bring forth the green shoots of corn and soybeans this spring.
   My closing thoughts turn to skiing.  With the great new snow makers at Greek Peak, I hope they will be sowing an abundance of new snow on the slopes.   The geezers are looking forward to reaping scores of wonderful days of skiing for this coming season.

More Construction Entertainment?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Swap Day - Open House - Greek Peak

   Greek Peak welcomed skiers and friends to an open house today during the annual Greek Peak Ski Club swap sale.  I spent the morning and into the afternoon chatting with old friends and Greek Peak personnel.  In addition it was a time to get my Season Pass, scope out the area improvements and see if there was any additional ski gear I should add to my collection.
   First of all it was a special pleasure to visit with Nita and Pret Goslee who are my heroes of senior skiing.   They are looking great and I look forward to seeing them on the slopes.   Pret says the we'll know if it is a great winter only after the season is over.   No predictions from the veteran.  The Goslee's as well as my other geezer friends all had a piece of gear in their hands as they left.  I regret that I was not able to score a hit for a suitable helmet to replace the old one.  I guess it will mean another squirt of Febreeze for this season.
My Happy Heroes - Pret and Nita
   Greek Peak personnel all seemed enthusiastic about the new management and the prospects of increased skier days.   The season pass printer was a bit balky but with patience by both the operator and me, a new pass was created.  I hope that the lift attendants will accept the ghostly image on my pass.
    The new groomer was prominently displayed alongside the smaller and older groomer.  Quite a contrast.  From an engineer's point of view it is a magnificent piece of machinery.   The new snow makers were lined up like a row of gigantic praying mantises!   Another red fan type snow maker flanked this array.   My visit to the new repair shop netted a personal tour and explanation of the operation of the new tuning equipment.   The latest high tech automated equipment along with the skilled personnel should produce great results.   I am looking forward to using their services this year.
Mark - Handiwork of the New Machines

Super Groomer!

New Snow Makers Awaiting Cold Weather

    As I was exiting the area I had a chance to observe progress on the new quad chair,  pump house and dam.   Towers are in place and a reel of tow cable is awaiting stringing.   Lots to do before the season commences.   Let's hope that the remaining work is done without significant glitches.
Towers Marching up the Hill - Cable is Ready
   It is thrilling to see the amount of effort going on to make the ski hill a welcoming, effective and rewarding experience.  One can only hope that the hill management during the season is as high in quality as the physical improvements that are being completed.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Rainy Day Beauty

   A day or so ago I saw a Facebook post of a series of Cornell Campus photos.   Every photo was taken either during a sunny or rain free day.    On my morning commute to the Cornell campus, the rain was coming down in torrents and the wind was blowing water spray and leaves and swaying the trees.  I drifted into a muse about the possible beauty of a rainy day over a sunny dry day.   
  It was satisfying to identify all kinds of pleasing sights.   The patterns of rain on each of the windows of the car were different.  The side windows were dotted with raindrops of different configurations.  The windshield drops were huge splotches interrupted by the sweep of the wipers.   The rear window had rivulets of water streaking from top to bottom.    I could even appreciate the whooshing clouds of spray erupting from the wheels of the passing semis.   (Even if it did cloud my vision ahead).   The sparkle of headlights in the rain provide a unique illumination of my surroundings.
   Even though there were gray skies and lowered light, the late autumn trees with golden and tan leaves added some color to the otherwise subdued background.   Needless to say, I was thoroughly entertained on my commute.   The brown fields of mature corn seemed to stand tall against the falling rain although the drooping ears were like hands shoved in pockets.   
   Upon arriving on campus, I took few moments to photograph my surroundings; first from my car and later on foot.   I tried to capture the essence of the beauty one can see in a rainy day.   Patterns, dripping trees, leaf filled pools.  Each day can bring an uplifting experience if one has the right perspective.
    I do love sunny days but also know I can enjoy the rainy ones too.   Of course I do get a bit grumpy when I have rain on my ski slope in mid winter!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Social Dynamics of Ski Lifts

  The November issue of Ski Magazine arrived today with a focus on family skiing and skiers.  I was particularly taken with an article entitled "Just the Two of Us" by  Megan Michelson.   She was lamenting the replacement of a the Gad 2 double chair lift at Snowbird with a new high speed quad.
Her concern is tied in with the loss of camaraderie of just two people on a ride up the mountain.  Two people on a lift, be it long time friends or simply strangers,  seem to share a lot in the isolation  of their ride.   However, with a quad ride there are many more complexities of relationships and exchanges that minimize more meaningful sharing beside the pleasantries of the day.
   With the installation of the new quad chair at Greek Peak, I can see that same thing happening with the geezer skier group.   In groups of four there is less likely to be a sharing of significant happenings and feelings.   Yes, geezer guys do have feelings that they often need to express.
   With the intrusion of smart phones, iPods and other electronic devices we have lost a lot of one on one communication.   Perhaps the double chair is the last bastion of a venue for meaningful conversation between old friends and also new acquaintances.   While I will enjoy the new quad at Greek Peak, I will also enjoy the double chair rides with close friends and the opportunity to get to know new people as well.  Just like Megan says in her article faster and bigger is not always better for the social dynamics of the ride.
Talk to Your Partner!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Construction Sights

  Last Saturday I made a visit to Greek Peak to see the progress with the renovations and the installation of a new ski lift.  To say the least the base area had the chaotic look typical of a project in mid completion.   Equipment of various kinds were on the site.  Piles of dirt were scattered about along with massive piles of stones.   The walls of one building for the snow making operation produced a skyline obscuring the view up the slope.   All of this activity was framed by the colorful leaves of the trees on the slopes.
   All of us who have been long time skiers at Greek Peak are in awe of the effort being made to upgrade the area.  A new lift will be welcome relief and I also hear that our lockers have been painted.  In addition I also hear that there will be renovated bathrooms.  Wow!   We geezers are indeed thrilled with the arrival of new owners and their commitment to making Greek Peak a superior facility in Central New York.  Kudos!
   Here's good wishes for a great 2013-14 season!   And best wishes for smooth completion of all the projects.
Love That Equipment

New Dam for Snowmaking Water in Foreground

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Feeling Good

  Autumn is a beautiful time of the year in Central New York.   Bright sunshine, bright colors and refreshing air coupled with magnificent vistas has to make one feel good.   This feeling was heightened for me earlier this week when I was on my morning commute to the Cornell Campus.
The sun was bright.  The sky was clear.  And there was a morning mist hanging in the valleys surrounded by hills with leaves of myriad colors.   Essentially all of my senses were engaged in feeling good.  Not only was my vision engaged but I had also tuned into a satellite radio broadcast of a Haydn symphony.   With all the senses engaged I could not help but reflect to myself that this is as good as it gets!
  That sense of well being and appreciation of my surroundings has continued for the remainder of this week.   A walk to lunch on campus today revealed a host of different colored trees and several gorgeous flower beds.  My evening constitutional walk throughout my neighborhood exposed me to gorgeous trees on our local golf course.   And as I write this, I am reminded of the nuances of colors and textures of corn and soybean crops at this time of the year too.   Perhaps there is the stirring of an artistic nature in my soul.   Whatever that might be, I am feeling good!  
Campus Colors

Statler Hotel Flowers

Golfers View

Walden Oaks Neighborhood

Sunday, September 22, 2013


   At this autumnal equinox there are stirrings among the die-hard skiers in anticipation of another season on the slopes.   Snowfall in the far reaches of the U.S. west are noted and dreams of being a better skier are renewed.   A couple of days ago I received my copies of Skiing and Ski magazines.  The Gear Guide issue spurred a review of the possibilities of new equipment.   It is interesting to see what new technology may be useful.  However, nothing grabbed me this time except the what seemed like hugely inflated prices for boots.  I am glad the my boot liners of last year are so effective and comfortable that I have no need for change.   Ski technology does not seem to have significantly changed from last year.
    The Top 50 Resort Guide was intriguing.   For the most part I agreed with the evaluations of the ski areas that I have visited.   Alta and Snowbird remain near the top of the hard core skiers ski areas as does Mad River Glen of the East.   Their evaluation of Snow Basin fit with my experience as well.  Even though I am now beyond the "skiing the steeps" the article on the same gave me a rush to think of what it is like to head off down a 40 degree slope.   Thankfully I am wise enough to be satisfied with the memory and not have to push myself now.
   Each year I usually add at least one thing new to my ski gear collection.  It looks like this year it will be a new jacket.   I  have been scoping out an appropriate jacket that fits my technical needs at the same time being of reasonable cost.   Google seems to be aware of my searches since jacket ads keep popping us whenever I am using Google Chrome.  For all of my geezer buddies at Greek Peak, you may not be seeing my old yellow jacket much this season.   However, like a comfortable pair of shoes the old yellow jacket still makes me feel good on the slopes.
    So here we are with the days getting shorter and the temperatures dropping.   Changes and stirrings are about.   A new season, a new management at our local ski area, and a new ski lift as well.  All this has to be stirring the blood of the geezer skiers.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Follow Your Bliss

     The Mythologist Joseph Campbell advised one to "follow your bliss".    I heard that advice from one of his tapes many years ago and thought that he was truly on target about how one should live your life.   Today I read column by Froma Harrop that support that approach to life.  She was reporting that people who follow their passion will have longer and happier lives.   No matter what the activity might be.  Being wealthy and having worldly recognition do not seem to guarantee longevity or satisfaction with life.   However if you find a life work that brings you satisfaction on a daily basis, you can expect to be more content.
   The two examples that Harrop wrote about were persons who were willing to ride out their calling in spite of the changes over the years.  One person was a typewriter repairman with a business that survived in spite of the demise of the typewriter in the last twenty or thirty years.   His business declined from employment of eight persons to only himself.   But he continued in to his eighties and until he died repairing typewriters as they became retro devices.   Another personal had a business selling vinyl records.  As we know vinyl disappeared as tape and Cd's replaced that technology.  However he held on until his demise following his passion.   Fortunately there is retro interest in the tonal quality of the vinyl record.
   At lunch today I was in conversation with several of my professor emeritus friends about various elements of the university life.   I think in our assemblage we agreed that all of us had the chance to "follow our bliss".   Our employment as university faculty allowed us to engage a life work of following our passion.   At least for the most part.  And note we ranged age from the late seventies and into the early eighties.   Perhaps it is an overstatement to say at all times in our academic careers that we were always following our passion.  In our emeritus status, however, we have very few constraints.
    As I reflect on my academic career, I can truly say I was pursuing my interests and curiosity in engineering because it was my pleasure more than it was my work assignment.  Indeed I have been fortunate to have followed my bliss.   And in retirement it is a pleasure to follow my recreational bliss of skiing.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Wisdom of The Ages

     Last Thursday I missed my favorite meeting of academics due to an unexpected mix up of scheduling.   It was the annual meeting of Cornell University engineering emeritus professors hosted by the  Dean of Engineering Lance Collins.  The meeting is typically a delicious lunch at the Statler Hotel followed by an update of the activities of the College of Engineering by the Dean and concluded by a spirited exchange of views about the college.   As you can see by the photos it is a geezer group.   Probably many of them would be offended by the geezer designation but I make that appellation with all due respect to the wisdom of the assembly.
   Many of these distinguished individuals have received national and international recognition by various academic associations.  These include the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences.   Some are also recipients of honorary doctoral degrees.  All in all they represent 1000's of years of distinguished engineering careers.   
   I think it is extremely wise of the Dean to cultivate input from this group.   Although some of the verbal exchanges can be sharp and occasionally contentious, the emerita and the Dean have a common goal of improving the College and its contributions to Cornell and greater society.
   As I gaze upon the picture of this group I cannot help to muse about what a photo of the next generation would look like.   Note for the moment there are no women.  Based on the current faculty of engineering make up, one could expect about one-third of the next generation to be women.   Also based on current engineering faculty demographics the next generation will have Hispanic and African-American emerita.  Whatever the case, any future Dean would be wise to seek input from the wisdom of the elders.
     (Since my blog supposedly speaks to the geezer skiers I should point out that the group pictured includes at least on downhill skier and several past and present cross country skiers).

Annual Meeting of the Cornell College of Engineering Emeritus Professors with the Dean
(Dean Lance Collins with the red badge - center)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Too Soon

   Recently I have noticed that  the maples have begun to show color on some of the leaves.   Also we have a front yard red maple that has lost leaves.  Both are early harbingers of the onset of Autumn.   Another sign of the impending fall season is the height of  the corn and its color in the fields that I pass on my way to Cornell.   Where did this summer go?   Too quickly the seasons change.  Or at least it seems that is true.
   As a participant in the Information Outposts for the arrival of Cornell Freshmen in late August I am further reminded that almost too soon another academic year has started.   It was my pleasure today (Friday of August 23, 2013)  to welcome students and their families to the campus.   Our outposts provide both information and  friendly advice and support to new members of the Cornell community.   I enjoy working with Emeritus Faculty and retired staff who man these venues.   Never too soon to lend a helping hand.
   The seasons roll by and sometimes the changes come too soon, but it is good to be actively involved.   Of course as an avid skier I know that post Autumn the ski slopes will be open.
Ann Gives Them The Word

A Tinge of Autumn Color

The Information Crew - John, Ann and Gene

Monday, August 19, 2013

Missed Opportunity

   I just finished watching American Pickers on the History Channel where Danielle was featured appealing to the city council of Le Claire, Iowa to approve expansion of their  Antique Archeology store.  To my dismay I realized Nancy and I  missed visiting their store when we stayed in Le Claire on our grand journey across the U.S and back.   Our Holiday Inn Express was just down the road from their store and it would have been an interesting site to visit.   In addition we missed the nearbyWild Bill Cody museum.  
  There are a remarkable number of places to visit everywhere you go and stay.   One has to accept that you can only see a small sampling of the attractions available.  Although we missed an Antique Archeology store visit, we had a wonderful stay in our room in Le Claire with a splendid view of the Mississippi River and a superb dinner at the Bier Stube  restaurant nearby.
  Antique Archeology has a store in Nashville, Tennessee so who knows we may be in Nashville some day and get to visit them there.   (Nancy will probably be a reluctant companion if we do visit but she will get to pick one of her favorite places in Nashville as compensation).    
The Mississippi at Le Claire, Iowa

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Old and The New

    This week on Tuesday I made my annual trek to the New York State Empire Farm Days near Seneca Falls to see the latest in farm machinery and agricultural technology.   Today I spent a few hours at the display of vintage Brockway Trucks on Main Street of Cortland.
   It is amazing how much technology has advanced both in farm machinery and trucks over a century of time.   At the Farm Days there were tractors that had cockpits with enough controls and readouts to match a modern jet plane.   GPS controlled driving and equipment monitors significantly enhance the productivity of the farm operator.   Not only has sophistication of the machines increased, but also the size of equipment, and tractors has enormously increased.   See the contrast between a 1931 John Dear tractor and a 2013 model.  
   At the Brockway display one could see a similar contrast in truck technology but only over about 70 years since Brockway built their last truck in 1977.   From what I can casually see of over the road trucks they also seem to have increased in size, power and sophistication.
   The antique technology was remarkably durable for its time.  However, probably there was a much higher level of maintenance required.   Geezers of my generation commonly were able to do that maintenance.   Although today's technology is unusually reliable, it is impossible for the home mechanic to repair the sophisticated computer controlled devices of modern diesel and gasoline engines.  Let alone the hybrids!
   I have grown to appreciate the old and celebrate the new.   I would mark that as being content with change while honoring the past.   Maybe that is the best way we can behave in geezerhood.
2013 - 9460 Model - 460 horsepower.

1931 John Deere

Brockway Truck Lineup

1927 Brockway - Columbia Fall, Montan Owner

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Grand Journey - Reflections

   Almost the entire month of July was devoted to a crossing the the U.S.A. from East to West and back via automobile.    Nancy and I were on a grand journey to see the U.S. on the off beaten track rather than the interstates.   Only on our return from the mid-west did we mostly stick to interstate roads.    We managed 6348 miles in 28 days through 16 states.
  From the geezer perspective it was a test of stamina to both see the sites, drive and adapt to new lodgings almost every day.   Nancy was a great relief driver and magnificently shared the load in every way.  I never had  to do laundry!
  One would expect that you could revel in eating out every meal.   However, after 26 days were were ready for a home cooked meal.   To our delight a visit with friends in Indiana provided both a delicious dinner and breakfast as well as a rest in a non-motel bed.
   Along the way we saw many sights, museums, gardens, parks, mountains, plains, rivers, deserts and historic markers.   Every day brought a surprise encounter with a place or person.   We were free to spontaneously visit a museum, garden, historic site or chat with a native of the area.   There were several geezer like encounters.  
  In Valentine, Nebraska I had a chat with a geezer motorcyclist on his Harley-Davidson trike.  His group was on their way to Sturgis, South Dakota as well as Glacier National Park.   On the way to view Mt. St. Helen's I had a great visit with a more senior  park ranger native of the area who gave a native's perspective of the eruption and recovery process.   There were numerous other friendly encounters with people of the geezer generation where they were eager to share their experience of living in that part of the world.
    We did pass by several signs alluding to ski areas in the vicinity of our route.  One would not expect to see a ski area in Iowa, but west of Ames, Iowa I chanced to see a small hill  of about 200 feet vertical with two double chairlifts.   Even Iowans have to have their ski fix.
    To preserve our experiences we both posted items on Facebook and Nancy was a routine blogger on her site.   Now that we are home, we are basking in the old comforts of a routine life.  We will continue to reflect on our journey and begin the process of sharing our experiences with friends and family.   Between us we have over 1000 pictures to refresh our memories.    
     Yes, it was a grand journey and we are thankful for the chance to experience a large part of our great nation up close and personal.


Monday, July 1, 2013

Enjoying The Ride

    Road trips can be challenging and exciting and occasionally confusing.  Our first day of an extended trip has been all of the above plus a whole lot of laughs.  In spite of nearly a whole day of rainy driving we arrived at our Erie destination on schedule and had delightful visit to the zoo.   We had a pun making contest on the way with travel as a theme.  See my wife's blog Onbeingsixtyplus for the details.  I am still in the pun mode, but will Minot add any groaners today.  Looking forward to continue to enjoy the ride.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Relating to Fourth Graders

   I can still remember my fourth grade experience at the North Rose Central School.   It was my first year after a year in a one room school.   For the most part it is a a relatively distant and somewhat indistinct memory.   Last Thursday I was reminded about the characteristics of fourth graders when 61  Groton Central School fourth graders visited the Living History Museum in Homer, New York.   I serve there as a volunteer guide for part of the day one day a week.
  Our guests arrived about noon accompanies by several teachers and parents.   Because of a rain out at the park they picnicked in the dry of our museum.  Normally we do not allow food or drink in the museum but an exception was made to allow our guests to eat sitting on the floor of our Brockway Truck exhibit area.  They were an active bunch but well behaved for the most part and very nicely cleaned up after themselves.
  Following lunch the larger group was divided into smaller section of about 20 students.   As guides we had the chance to lead them through the three different exhibit areas of the museum.  
  Keeping the attention of fourth graders is a skill that I have yet to develop.  However, I learned that asking questions was a way of engaging their interest.   Thus putting on my teaching hat, I attempted to fill them in on the history of the Brockway Trucks in a way that would relate to their life experiences.   It was fun to explain how engines and transmissions work and even to point out these elements in our exhibit.   The military museum has a number of  weapons, uniforms and so on that also kept their interest.   We also have train related artifacts that many could relate to since about half of the group had ridden on a train.   In the tractors of yesteryear area I felt most at home with illustrating the  unique features of the tractors on display.
    Although I am many, many years away from the fourth grade, I still enjoyed the interaction with these bright young people.  Perhaps the museum experience will enhance their appreciation of history.   As a living artifact, I hope they weren't too bored with my attempts to engage their curiosity.  I had fun and look forward to more school visitors.

Lunch on the Floor

Lunch among the Brockway Trucks

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

New Ski Lift

   Happy to hear my home ski area of Greek Peak is installing a new quad chair lift for the 2013-2014 season.   The new owners are committed to improving the ski side of the resort and this first move is especially welcomed by this geezer skier.   One of the banes of lift loading is having the chair whack you in the back of the legs.   The new chair from Dopplmayr has a marvelous loading system.   The skier slides onto a slow moving conveyor belt that is slightly slower than the chair speed so you are gently seated as the chair comes around behind you.   With this system there is no human involved who could make a mistake in loading as it is with the standard fixed chair lifts.   What a blessing!!
   Several standard lifts will remain in operation at the ski area so we geezers will still have to be alert to the distracted lift loader failing to hold the chair properly.  However, I am impressed with the commitment of the new owners to improving the skiing experience.  Perhaps there will be better training and supervision of the chair loaders.   In spite of this comment about the loaders, I do want to thank them for their service.  It is a tough job!
   Along with the new ski lift the new owners are purchasing a new groomer and upgrading the snow making.   More pluses for the committed geezer skiers who are among the most regular everyday skiers.   In addition new rental equipment is being purchased that should enhance the experience of the beginning skiers.
  Although we are just approaching summer, I look forward to the return of snow in December and enhanced facilities at the ski area.   Another social plus for the new ski lift is the capacity of four on a chair allows more family togetherness.   Now when daughter and son-in-law come from Long Island for  ski weekend, we will all be able to ride up together.
Dopplmayr Easy On Loading

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Moving to the Big Leagues

  This morning I heard an NPR radio piece about a baseball player trying to move into the big leagues.   At age 23 he is playing AA ball after a short stint at AAA.   He hopes to eventually move  up into the major leagues.   His manager thinks he has the talent and may eventually improve enough to make the move.   I guess he has about a 50-50 chance of realizing his dream since the data shows that only a half of over 6000 minor league players have made the big jump.
   All this got me to thinking that all of us have had a dream of moving into the big leagues in our lifetime.  Whatever our profession or employment or other activity there is some kind of metaphorical big league that we would like to play in.   As a politician it is the progression from local to county to state to federal political office either as an executive or a legislator.   I guess even within the clergy there can be the aspiration to be a bishop.   For those of us who have had an academic career there can be the aspiration to become a tenured faculty member in an elite Ivy  institution or in one of the other  top twenty U. S. universities.   Wherever we play out our aspirations there is a "big league" vision that tantalizes us.
   Back to the story of the young baseball player.   When asked about his feelings about be sent back down from AAA last year he replied, "It was tough but after I got over the initial disappointment, I made up my mind to just work on getting better and just enjoy where I am at the moment."   Wow!  What maturity!   Life experiences for most of us is that we may get to "play in the big leagues" perhaps for a while or maybe not at all.  Or we may "play"  at the highest level but eventually get sent down to the minors.   Whatever the case we need to enjoy the ride wherever we are.
   What is playing in the big leagues in our senior years?   One thing I can suggest for the senior skier is that regardless of age our big league experience is to be on the slopes on a regular basis throughout the entire ski season.   Or perhaps in the latter years just showing up for a few runs and coffee is big league achievement.  Hopefully we will maintain our skiing competence in spite of the vagaries of the aging process.   Perhaps the greatest thing we can do is show up!


Friday, June 7, 2013


  Every June I look forward to playing tennis in the New York State Senior Games in Cortland.   Lately I have been playing in the Singles division in my age group and in the Mixed Doubles group division in Nancy's age group.   Although I failed to be a medal winner last year in my singles group, I still enjoyed the round robin play that gave me several matches over the course of two days.   By virtue of a small number of participants in mixed doubles last year, Nancy and I were medal winners.
   Unfortunately the 2013 games have not been as satisfying.   In my pool of six players for singles we were only able to get in one match a piece before the rain came in earnest.   At least I had a win so that was partially satisfying.   However, I would like to have had a chance to at least test my skills against the remaining four opponents.   I have never beaten three of the remaining four but it still is rewarding to raise my level of play against them.   Perhaps my only hope now is to outlive them!
  Today was another rain day with no matches scheduled.   Play is scheduled for singles tomorrow although the doubles play has been cancelled.   Unfortunately, I will have to forfeit my play tomorrow due to obligations for  the Cornell Alumni Weekend.   Oh well - I  trust there will be another year to play again.
   Meanwhile, I give my best wishes to Wise, Usher, Shannon, Schoonaker and Viktor  S.  as they battle it out tomorrow.   We are all within five years of age of each other and for about three years of the five year bracket we are all in the same bracket.  However some of the years one or more is in either a higher or lower age bracket.   With Nancy I get to play with the youngsters!
Washout - Court a reflecting pool!

An Armchair Athlete - Rain Out Day

Friday, May 31, 2013

Another Growing Season

    Changes in the seasons brings on new activities and new landscapes.   As a farm boy I was accustomed to the impact of change of seasons related to the crops we grew.   There was a time to plant, a time to cultivate, a time to fertilize and a time to harvest.   I continue many years later to be tuned to the seasons of agriculture.   My commute to the Cornell Campus takes me by hundreds of acres of fertile land devoted to hay, corn and soybeans.   I delight in the start of the growing season when fields are tilled, crops are planted and the new plants emerge from the land.
A New Corn Crop Emerging
 To me every growing season is a rebirth of vigor.   If only  geezers could have more of that kind of rebirth and rejuvenation every year.   Perhaps we do have that rebirth in spirit each spring and summer in spite of our declining physical abilities.
     Although skiers tend to emphasize winter seasons as markers of elapsed time, I am more inclined to mark yearly progress in summers.   Somewhere in my reading I encountered a story about Native Americans marking the age of children and themselves by the number of summers they lived.  If asked about the age of a child they would say he or she had lived so many summers.   I am not sure that this idea is authentic but I like the thought.
    We know that each season has it's own purpose.  I am reminded of the scripture from Ecclesiastes Chapter 3:1.  "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens".
    There is a season for every activity!  Winter is to enjoy the slopes if you are a skier. Fall and Spring give us transitional periods to adjust our lives to new activities. Summer is a time to enjoy outdoor activities as well as to appreciate flowers, leafed trees and the productivity of the earth.   But now we are in the growing season.  A time to watch things grow on the land, in our yards and in our garden.   And perhaps we can also think of how we can enjoy rebirth by new activities,  renewed relationships and new insights in our continuing existence on this earth.   In spite of our age we can always be growing in one way or another.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Engineering Mind

    Just as artists have a way of viewing the world around them, engineers also have a unique perspective.   During Grandparent's day at the Lake Champlain School where two of grandchildren attend we had a chance to tour the newly acquired building for a new high school location.  The building was formally the Morgan Horse Museum and consists of a post and beam construction.   I was completely enthralled by this construction.   Not only is it a beautiful building, but it also vividly exposes the post and beam construction process.   The photos below illustrate some of the joints between braces, beams, columns and the like.   In some ways this experience was a return to my childhood farm barn that was built in the 1860's as post and beam with mortise and tenon connections.    The finish on wood of this new school was much nicer than my old barn that even had some bark on the rough hewn beams.
   The only element of the construction for the new school building that I couldn't reconcile was the wooden pins in almost all the joints were still protruding.   I would have sawed them off flush with the beam.   David the architect leading the tour said that this was the common effect in modern post and beam construction.   Is that an artistic interpretation or is it too much trouble to cut them flush?   Perhaps it is the conflict between the artist and the practical engineer!
Beams make a bold statement of strength.

Joint with Pegs Protruding.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Rediscovering Math

      I just finished my first reading of Steven Strogatz's book The Joy of X:   A Guided Tour of Math From One to Infinity.   As an engineering academic I studied a lot of mathematics.   For the most part I did very well in most of the courses.  I certainly learned enough to  answer the test questions.  However, after reading Strogatz's book I have discovered I missed a lot of the essence of mathematics.  What I did learn were the techniques and procedures that enabled me to solve engineering problems without really appreciating the beauty of mathematics.   His book has opened a whole new appreciation of not only the beauty of mathematics but also the broad scope of how mathematics effects our everyday lives.   Mathematics is not only a element of engineering practice, but it is an underpinning for medicine, finance, transportation, biology, and you name it.   Even though this book is written for the general public to enjoy,  I find my ability to fully understand the underlying concepts to be challenged.  
     I am planning a second reading before I pass this book on to my "mathy" friends.   Since this is primarily a geezer skiers blog, I will be looking for math applications to the sport of skiing in my second read.   Perhaps I need to calculate the highest speed I will attain schussing the steepest slope at my local ski area.  Or perhaps I will need to compute the mean coffee break time as a function of the quality of the snow conditions for the day.   And even more perhaps I should calculated the number of permutations of different geezer pairs riding together on the ski lift as a function of the number of geezers present.   Oh the wonder of mathematics.   Thanks Steve for opening my mind to new possibilities.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


   Life doesn't get simpler as you age if you continue to participate in the digital age.   Many seniors avoid the complications of the digital age by avoiding e-mail, Facebook and the like.  Others of us participate to the fullest extent.   The result is a plethora of ID's, passwords,  user names, and the like.   Since I have a smartphone, an IPad, and three computers that I use at various times I have a multitude of access codes and passwords that I need to remember.   And beyond the digital issue I have to remember the combination to my ski locker!  If ever I pass into the senile state, I surely will be at a loss to remember all that stuff.
   Today I made the effort to consolidate all the information I need to operate all my machines and various sites that I visit.  Remarkably there are about 25 different accesses that I need to keep track of.   I will not be able to remember the various items  that I occasionally use so I will have to have some mechanism for recovering that information.     A Google search shows that there are a couple of ways available to solve this problem.  One is to use a software oriented password manager.  Another is to use a device called myIDkey.   The device will store your password information and make it accessible only through your own fingerprint.  Pretty nifty idea though it markets for about $140.   I guess a complicated digital age life can be somewhat simplified by reducing the information to one simple tool.  So my quest continues.
   As an afterthought; is there a way for me to remember peoples names?  Maybe I need  a gadget that discreetly reads the facial features of people I should remember and display their names on a small screen attached to my glasses!   Perhaps that is the next great invention for those of us that have little facility for remembering names. Life is complicated even beyond the digital age issues.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Making a Statement

  During my morning commute I followed a car with a multitude of stickers on the rear bumper, rear window and hatchback.  This triggered a muse of what kind of statements the driver and owner of the vehicle was trying to make.  Who and what were they wanting to influence?  This thought stayed with me for the day and the thoughts about venues for making a statement expanded beyond the bumper sticker.
   Tattoos are probably an increasingly common way of making a statement in our current environment.   Obviously people want to make a visible sign on their bodies about something that they think is entertaining as art or maybe as a message about who and what they are.  I was somewhat amused as I walked back to my office from lunch when I followed a young student in shorts who had an image of a bear tattooed on the back of each calf of his leg.  Both bears facing out  to the side in profile.   Bear legs and bare legs!  I would like to think he was making the statement he has a wry sense of humor.
  Upon further thought it seems that we all are making a statement of who and what we are through many subtle and not so subtle ways.   The statement may come from the type of car we drive, the fashion of our clothes, our hair style, the home we live in, the people we associate with and the way we worship.    The outward often has something to say about the inward person.   Typically we think of teenagers making statements about themselves by unusual clothing styles and bizarre  social encounters.   Likely this is testing out the acceptable norms for relating to the adult world.   Optimistically this is a learning process that moderates as they become satisfied within themselves that things are okay with them.
   As I relate this muse to the geezer skier community it occurs to me that those of us who wear a geezer skier badge or a 70+ , 80+, or 90+ sticker on our helmet are making a statement that we are cool with being in our senior years.   We are probably saying look at us.  We are happy old guys, pleased to still be on skis!   In conclusion maybe we all have the need to be noticed in some unique way even if we are content with who we have become.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Farewell -2012-13 Season

  Saturday couldn't have been a better day to say farewell to the 2012-13 ski season.   The temperature stayed in the 20's and 30's and the sky was blue and clear.  There was ample snow on almost every slope at Greek Peak.  At least all that were open.   Early morning the surface was firm granular that morphed into great corn snow by the afternoon.  Ladies from the Tri-Cities Ski Club  in their Hawaiian hula skirts and colorful leis graced the slopes in a celebratory manner.
  Only a few geezers were present for the closing day.  Most had made their farewells in the past week and were off to their summer pursuits.   In anticipation of rain the area was not open on Sunday and with the likely rain for this week there is little expectation for a weekend opening.  I heard that there were 108 days of skiing this year.  Any time we get over 100 days is a bonus.
   As I wrapped up my day on Saturday I took a few pictures of the remaining snow on a few slopes and expressed my silent thanks to God, Mother Nature, and my hugely supportive wife, Nancy for the good fortune to be able to ski to my heart's content.  I am indeed grateful in many ways for good health, a great spouse and enjoyable friends.
  With farewell to the slopes, I say hello to the tennis courts.   I am looking forward to another great season of tennis with wife and friends as partners and opponents.   On to the Empire State Senior Games in June!