Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Food Pantry Help

     A Greek Peak free ski pass for anyone bringing a non-perishable food item today to be distributed to the local food pantry.  This event has been a tradition for Christmas Eve Day for many years now.   For many season pass holders, it is a day to avoid the people crush.  However, for me I find it a heart warming experience to visit the slopes and observe the bounty of food being gathered.  And I always feel good about bringing some food and make a monetary contribution.   I regret that it was raining today.  Unfortunately there will be much less food available this year.
    All this gives me pause to think that a can of food is a pretty small contribution to obtain the equivalent of over $50 of value in  a lift ticket.  Most skiers are fortunate to have discretionary income.  Those suffering from food insecurity are not so lucky.  Maybe for the future the price of free day of skiing needs to increase beyond one can or one item of non-perishable food.  A neighboring ski area has a better idea.  Toggenburg requires food items totalling $5 in value to obtain the lift ticket.  Still a great deal.  Although Toggenburg will not be open this Christmas Eve Day, they do plan to have a similar event on New Years Eve Day.  Hooray for them as well.
    Although this has been a rather dreary, rainy day on the slopes, my heart is warmed by the generosity of the Greek Peak ownership and management.  And thanks to all the skiers that came in with multiple items for the food pantry.  Blessings to all that give and to all that receive.  Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Holidays to all.
The Greek Peak Food Crew - Thank You!

A Jolly Set of Contributors to the Food Pantry

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Privilege of Participation

   It is a wonderful feeling to be good enough at something to participate in the activity.  Of course skiing is one of my activities that I am good enough to ski with at least my contemporaries and even many youngsters.    However, I am not so good at singing and although I did sing in the choir in high school,  I never felt confident enough to join an adult choir.   Probably a good thing because my youngest daughter winces when I attempt to sing along with her.  Thus,  until this week I have never had to chance to be a participant in a musical production.  No, I didn't sing!  However, in the production of an original Christmas Cantata written by my wife Nancy Rehkugler, composed by Paulette Fry and directed by Sue Bonne, I was privileged to have an opportunity to assist with the sound system.  I became one of the 50 or so people involved in the premier presentation at the Sunday worship of the United Presbyterian Church of Cortland.
   With training by the sound system guru Tom Corey, I  was able to cut in  and out the soloist's microphones for the two duets.   While it was certainly a very small part of the presentation, I am pleased to say the sound levels were well done and on cue.  Although, I probably did not need to know how to read music, I found my task much easier since I was able to follow the music.
   The cantata was a most worshipful and magnificent event and truly a blessing for me to be a small part of the production that was received with enthusiastic acclaim by the congregation.
    The moral of all this is perhaps, don't underestimate the value of giving someone the opportunity to participate in an activity.
(For background on the cantata go to

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Novice Mistake

    A great day on the slopes after winter storm Damon  dumped a pile of snow on Greek Peak and the surrounding area.  Although the roads were treacherous this morning, I had a safe trip  to the area by traveling at 30 MPH or so.   The new snow had a high water content.  A typical Northeast "powder" condition.  Early runs on the untracked surface were great and even later in the day conditions remained comfortable.
   During my coffee break I watched a family traversing from one lift to another.  Clearly a novice group.   Dad skating ahead carrying a pair of skis.  Mom and two youngsters trailing behind with one of the younger children frequently tumbling in the snow to be pulled to his feet by Mom.   I hope the family was having fun, but clearly it wasn't the best of days for the parents or maybe even the children.  The early days of skiing with a young family can be a challenge.  I hope they prevail and become veterans.
   As a veteran, I find I still can be prone to making a novice mistake.   I decided to take a selfie this morning as I was riding the lift.  Removing gloves to get out my camera was necessary.  Normally I am wise enough to secure my gloves before moving to photography.   Today, however, I made the mistake of putting my gloves on the seat of the quad chair.  Within a second or two a gust of wind blew my gloves to the snow below.   What a stupid novice mistake!  At least I didn't drop a pole.  I managed to keep my hands warm under my coat for the ride up but by the time I reached the bottom the hands were nearly frost bitten.  Moral of the story:  No matter how experienced you are, mistakes will happen.
Ski Patrol on the Snow


Monday, December 1, 2014

Reflections on Opening Day

  Friday past was opening day at our local ski area, Greek Peak.   A welcomed early opening supported by low temperatures the week before and a 8 inch natural snow fall.   The opening day crowd was a mix of young and old skiers eager to start the season, even if there were only two lifts and two trails available.
   Eager to get first tracks, I arrived early and managed to get to the slope before the lifts were admitting skiers.  Not knowing what to expect for conditions, I talked friend Andy into going to the beginner chair and slope first.   Big mistake!!   What a fiasco.   The chairs were covered with about 8 inches of snow and the start of the lift was delayed by about 15 minutes.   The phones were not working and the attendants had to arrange for radios for communication.  Not a good impression about the new management of the slope.   Although we were not at the quad chair lift at the start, it seems there was a delay there too.
  We remained upbeat anyway and finally  got to sit on a snowy seat for a ride to the top.  (I routinely wear a waterproof seat warmer under my waterproof/breathable ski pants as a precaution.)
Grooming was good and at least we got first tracks with better than usual early season conditions.  Normally I would not have gone to the beginner slope, but decided it would be wise to get  the kinks out before heading to a more difficult trail.   After a few runs we were ready for playing with the big boys.  By that time the more difficult trail was beginning to deteriorate.  A choppy surface began to develop with a few "gotchas" here and there.   Even though I routinely work out to stay fit, top to bottom traverse was a challenge.   Different muscles than used for walking and tennis.   As the crowd increased, it was time to quit and take a coffee break.  Enough for the first day.
   With the new year, the coffee service prices were a surprise for the geezer community.  After many seasons of geezer age coffee prices at a dollar, a shocking three dollar coffee is on the agenda.   Ah well, I guess we had it too good for too long.   Not a problem for me.  I have always brought my own thermos of home brewed coffee and will continue that tradition.  And my daily apple fritter energizes me for the rest of the day.
   With special opening for fresh tracks skiing on the next day, Saturday at 7:30 A.M.  I eagerly got off to an early start on the Iliad slope.  However, I had failed to recognize that the first tracks access to the Visions Quad lift came with a price.  Ten dollars for the first hour until regular pass holders are admitted to the lift.   I new wrinkle in the operation of the area.  For early season it was worth it since in that hour there were relatively few skiers and we had a well groomed trail.  However, by the end of the hour the conditions had deteriorated.  I wonder how the standard pass holders felt about that?
     Conclusions?  1.  Glad to have an early opportunity to ski.   2.  With the new management, there is a different feel the skiing at Greek Peak.   3. With change comes welcomed new things but also as sense of mourning for some of the old shoe comfort of the past.   Meanwhile, I look forward to the return of the Tough Old Geezer Skier for this new season.  Thank God, we can ski!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Spiders and Snow

     A few days ago as I stepped into the shower I was greeted by a sizable daddy long legs spider.   I am not afraid of spiders but I don't necessarily like them either.  By the time my shower was over the spider was washed down the drain.  Good riddance!   So, I can imagine some of my friends who detest winter are disappointed when they open the door in the morning and are greeted with several inches of snow.    Our recent snowfall certainly is an example of that disappointment for them.  However, just as the spider washed down the drain, the forecast for rain may wash much of that snow down the drain.
    So what purpose spiders and snow in God's universe.   They are both loved and loathed by different people.   I first asked myself, "Why spiders"?     As a skier it is obvious the snow is provided for renewing water supplies and certainly for downhill skiing.  But spiders?   Well, maybe they are useful.   How about the beauty of the finely crafted spider web glistening with dew in the morning sun?  And probably in the order of ecology they contribute to a greater system we can only partially understand.    On the practical side, I understand the study of spider web material reveals possibilities of making very thin and strong strands of material.
   Let's get back to snow.  Although most of the public groan when hearing about the next snow storm, the skier delights in the news.  No loathing on the skiers part.  Just the hope for a powder day and great condition at the local ski area.  What a diverse people we are!  It is good to be tolerant of our differing likes and dislikes.   Yes, some can loathe both spiders and snow, or love them both.   Or they can love one and not the other.   Meanwhile, I am enjoying the anticipation of the next ski season.   A recent visit to Greek Peak gives me hope for an early start as I observed the beauty of snow making in full force.
Glorious Day for Making Snow

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Construction Entertainment -Agriculture Conflict

   This morning I decided to take my daily constitutional walk along Route 13 in South Cortland to observe close hand the many construction projects under way.  I find it entertaining to watch construction projects and drive-by's do not give me sufficient time to savor the scene.  Over the last year or so we have had a plethora of new construction projects sprouting up.   The first project past Bennie Road headed south on Route 13 is a new Cannon Pool business building on the right.   Next on the left one will encounter the construction of the building for the Tractor Supply Company.  Directly across the road from Tractor Supply is the new Byrne Dairy yogurt plant opened earlier this year.   Continuing down the road on the right you will see the building in progress for expansion of  the Pyrotek Corporation.   And finally at the intersection with Gracie and Webb Roads a new Sunoco convenience store and gas station is nearing completion.
   The scenes were bustling with workers digging, paving,  and erecting elements of the buildings.   Construction machinery abounded.   A beautiful day when humans were creating new venues for manufacturing, sales and production of useful products.  At the same tine I was enjoying all the construction activity I was conflicted about the loss of fertile and productive land for agriculture.   Over the past several years there has been a creep of structures over taking some of the best agricultural land in Cortland County and perhaps even in the State of New York.  Yes, it is zoned commercial now and perhaps we should expect this to happen.   The question for me is,  When will it swallow up the the corn and soy bean fields that extend beyond this current spate of construction?  I am reminded that we can expect the world population in a few short years to expand from 7 billion to 9 billion  before it levels off.  I guess I will always lament the loss of valuable agricultural land to other uses,   Meanwhile, I am grateful I still have both the pleasure of observing creative building projects and watching crops growing of the remaining prime agricultural land.  Lets continue to applaud the land owners who put land into a trust that preserves our rural landscape.
Byrne Dairy- Yogurt Plant
Steel Erection at Pyrotek
Soybeans Have Been Harvested
Sunoco Station -Opening Soon
Tractor Supply Nearing Completion

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Pre Season - Skier Fellowship

   Thanks to the leadership of Frank Bonamie our senior skier group had a great lunch at the Acorn Grill at Greek Peak today.   As Frank said, "I was ready for a few laughs".   And  we did laugh and lunch and and the eight of us had a great time catching up on our summer activities and reminiscing about the past ski season.   Frank was a generous host for the lunch too!!  We owe you one Frank!
   During the off season we all have found activities to keep us fit and to prepare for another season.  Frank may well be ahead of us with his new Skier's Edge machine.  He even can wear his ski boots on this new version of the Skier's Edge.
The rest of us have fitness workouts with tennis, walking, swimming and golf.  
    In a couple of months we all hope that Greek Peak will be open for business.  For some of us we anticipate trying out new gear.   Others of us will settle in with the tried and true equipment that has served us well in the past.  We all are looking forward to both the skiing and the fellowship.   Good health to all and sorry that many missed our lunch get together today.  Here are a few pictures to remind you all of what you missed ( Note - Dick got away before I could get him in the picture).

Andy, John, Gerry, Alan, Pat and Frank

Andy, John, Midge, Gerry, Alan, Pat, and Frank

View From the Hotel Entrance

Monday, October 13, 2014

When Less is More

    No doubt I am a minimalist.  In comparison to my senior generation, I think I am an anomaly.  I tend to want to minimize  things on my desk and be satisfied with lack of clutter in my basement, my tool bench and in general my surroundings.   To me having less is more satisfying.  In some ways that is strange since I grew up in a family with limited resources and often felt left out from  having things.  Perhaps this is maturing and really understanding that having things can also be a burden.
   The minimalist nature seems to play out in all things in my life.   A recent  home example is some landscaping rehabilitation at our home.   Over the period of 15 years or so since our home was built some of the landscaping grew in size to fully occupy the front of the house and even spill out onto the sidewalk.   Also some of the arborvitae required a ladder to access the tops for trimming.   After recognizing the problem it was obvious that many of the trees had to go.  See below for the before and after views.  Removal is now complete opening up the area and a modest amount of replanting is done.  Hopefully the careful selection of the new plantings will control the size.  And space will be available for annual flowers to add some color during the growing season.   To our eyes less will be more attractive.
   In the vein of less is more I can apply the same thought to skiing.  Carving a good turn is probably accomplished better with more subtle movements.   Finesse is likely better than trying to muscle your way down the mountain.
   Also another example of less is more.   For the the last two years we have owned a hybrid car - a Toyota Prius.   I like driving it in the "Eco" mode.   This means that I focus on gradual acceleration to the legal speed limit and try to anticipate red lights to minimize the amount of braking force needed.  This minimalist approach has produced an average 50 miles per gallon in 28,000 miles of driving.
    Although I am a minimalist advocate, maybe one can take it too far.   Probably some of the drivers around me are annoyed by my gradual acceleration when the light changes.  Maybe, the less or more that I need to work on in those situations is to be less annoying.  I guess the conclusion is that taking the minimalist notion to the extreme can be as bad as being a hoarder.
   And finally, I've written enough on this topic!



Tuesday, September 23, 2014

On Being a Character

    I am convinced that everyone has the desire to be an actor in one way or another.   Children for instance love to perform and often take on roles that amuse their family and anyone that will watch and hear them.   As we mature many of us shy away from performing as we become self-conscious or have criticisms of our behavior.  Yet I think that even the senior citizen enjoys playing a part once in a while.
   This past Saturday afternoon I had the pleasure of portraying the life of Ezra Cornell at the Living History Museum of Central New York at Homer, NY.   My presentation was a part of the Tractors of Yesteryear celebration.   After reading three biographies of Ezra Cornell and writing a 50 page script and practicing several times I felt I had a sense of who Ezra Cornell was.   My goal in preparation was to absorb the essence of Ezra Cornell's psyche.  In doing so I expected that I could do a first person presentation with reasonable credibility.   To convince the audience of my authenticity as Ezra Cornell, I rented a 1860's period costume.   I think the visual impact on the audience was significant.   The costume also made me feel credible as well.
   For over an hour I imagined that I was Ezra Cornell telling my life story from the perspective of my last days on earth.  It was fun to stay in that character and I think my audience was at least informed if not entertained.   After all the work I put into this presentation, I almost wish I could get another gig to do it again.  Wouldn't that be appropriate?  Especially since it is the Sesquicentennial Celebration for the founding of Cornell University.   Yes, I guess I am a character and a ham!
Ezra and a Prop in Front

Costumed and Ready

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Simple Wholesome Pleasures

   After a tennis work out today and a shower, I grabbed a fresh tee shirt from the drawer.  For some unknown reason the smell of fresh laundry struck me as special wholesome pleasure.   So that triggered further thought about simple pleasures life can bring.  Perhaps it comes under the heading of stopping to smell the roses.
     Here are a few wholesome pleasures that I find myself enjoying by trying to be more in the moment.
1.  The smell of baking bread.  I occasionally make bread in a bread machine.  The smell fills the house and stimulates the gastric juices.   (So tempting, my wife makes me do the baking in the basement)
2.  Wood smoke wafting on an autumn breeze.  Visions of a cozy fire and a tasty beverage of your choice.
3.  The aroma of freshly ground coffee beans.   I routinely grind my own bean to make coffee and truly enjoy the process.
4.  The surprise of a beautiful sunset.   Gorgeous colors painting the sky.   Probably the same thing happens in the morning but I prefer to sleep in.
5.  The neatness of a newly mowed lawn.  
6.  The purity of dew on the grass.
7.  Fresh sweet corn on the cob.
8.  The smile of a baby.
Recent Sunset -Photo Taken From our Patio

     Readers, now it is your turn to savor the simple wholesome pleasures you can experience.

      In a few weeks the leaves will turn and we will be saturated with the brilliant colors of autumn.  I'll remind myself to store up those visions in anticipation of the grayness until the snow falls.  But as a geezer skier, I can anticipate the beauty of the snow that will clothe the earth in new beauty.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Rain on My Parade- Spouse to the Rescue

   I am convinced that minimizing the effects of aging entails daily exercise.  If my wife and I don't play tennis on a given day, some other activity has to be included at least for a half hour or more.   Gardening and other chores can substitute for athletics as long as I get up a good sweat.   This Labor Day weekend did not lack for exercise.  For two days I was repairing and maintaining my snow blower.   Each of those two days required about six hours of wrestling with the parts of the snow blower that had to be disassembled and then put together.  I must have sweat a gallon in the process.   We also threw in a couple of sessions of tennis as well.   Lost weight in the process but did vegetate one day to let the old body recuperate.
Disassembled Blower - My Wrestling Partner
   Now to the title of this post.  My day was taken up with morning chores and an afternoon guiding at the local museum.  No chance for vigorous exercise.  Post dinner this evening,  after a  brief rain shower, I decided to walk the neighborhood which normally takes about fifty minutes.  Several miles to work up a good sweat.  No rain when I left the house.   However, about 30 minutes into the walk the rain started and became a downpour.   In a few moments I was soaked and concerned about my smart phone getting wet.   Gritting my teeth and shivering a bit at the same time I was prepared to tough it out.   However, to my delight this geezer in distress sighted my wife's red Camry tooling down the street and Nancy coming to my rescue.   Great reversal in roles;  rescue of a geezer in distress rather than a damsel in distress.  Blessings to my lovely wife!
  As I write this I also hear a television warning regarding the weather.  Good thing I am under shelter.   Surviving to parade another day.
Golf Course Sight on My Walk for a Sunny Day

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Power and Peril

    I always enjoy a visit to Empire Farm Days the first week in August each year. I plan my visit so I can walk up each street of this exhibition and stop at any venue that sparks my interest.  By noon I will have seen about half of the displays and by mid afternoon I will complete my rounds.   Then it will be time to watch some of the field demonstrations.
     As an engineer, I am always examining the mechanisms of the various machines and speculating on the manufacturing processes.   Obviously there are a multitude of processes that include  welding, forging, casting, milling and so on.   One can always ask the question,  How do they do that?
    What struck me this year was the consistently enormous size of many of the machines on display.  The monster sizes tend to be the tractors, combines, and forage harvesters.    Also added to that list would be a specialized liquid manure spreader and large square and round hay balers.    With all the power available, there is a need for tools of equally gigantic size.   That means one will find 6 or more bottom plows and 24 foot or more tillers and rollers.   A far cry from my days on the farm in the 1940's and 50's.
    So we have seen a huge growth in the size of the machinery and the power units associated with them.  Change that has made farming more of a corporate activity than a way of life.  Although some small equipment is still made, it is difficult for a small farmer to compete with large land holdings and dairy herds.    Beyond the power issue, What do the small and large holdings have in common?   Now I get to the issue of peril.
   Farming is a hazardous occupation.   Tractors roll over,  machinery operators can be caught up in the machines and often children are inadvertently injured by their proximity to hazards and their curiosity.   Unfortunately even at the Empire Farm Days the peril of agriculture was tragically emphasized this year when a youngster was injured in a hoof trimming machine.   It is heartening at this time that although his injuries were sever, he seems to be in recovery.  We all hope and pray his recovery will be complete.
    One may ask if there is progress in making farming a safer occupation.  The answer in my opinion is a qualified yes.   All the machines I examined during this years visit had excellent shielding of gears, belts, sprockets and shafts.   All tractors had rollover protective structures.   Panic bars and emergency stops were prominent.  However, with all the mechanical elements for safety in place there are still hazards that related to operator error and bystander peril.   Also, although new machines adhere to higher standards of safe design, there are still thousands of agricultural tractors still in service without roll over protective structures.   Thankfully there is a program to retrofit these tractors supported by the State of New York and operated by the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health out of the Mary Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown, NY.  Each year I make it a point to stop by their display to get the latest stats on retrofitting.  
    In conclusion, I consider myself fortunate to have survived the hazards of farming as a lad and to have reached geezer status.
Making Firewood the Easy Way

Liquid Manure Applicator- Nozzles Front, Rear and Sides

Forage Harvester

Six Bottom Plow

Round Bale Wrapping Machine
470 Horsepower - Probably $500,000 

Monday, August 4, 2014

An Alaska Cruise

   Only a few days back from an Alaska Cruise.  Still adjusting to time change and in de-tox from massive amounts of food.  Our first cruise and it was a dandy.  First class all the way except for the air flights.   However, even the flights were all on time and hassle free.  A relatively small ship of 685 passengers with a crew of over 400.  
   The food was outstanding, the company was delightful and on board entertainment was first class with a new show every night with a live band.
Upon arrival at Seattle we were transported to the ship by a witty tour bus operator and soon settle into our state room.  Cozy but quite functional with a substantial window view of the surroundings.   After an almost immediate safety drill we were free to fully explore the ship.   Several first class restaurants and cafe and other food service locations were available.   Eleven decks gave us a plethora of viewing sites.  Pool, hot tub, putting green, ping pong and shuffle board for diversions.   And a magnificent library stocked with the latest bestsellers.   Afternoon tea the order of the day a 4:00PM.
   From Seattle we sailed to Ketchikan, Alaska our first port.   Ketchikan is an island with about 10,000 residents near the Tongass National Forest.   Fishing and lumbering dominate the economy along with tourism.  Our tour in Ketchikan included a Lumberjack Show on the pier and a native culture visit to a long house and totem pole park.   Learned about the indigenous culture of the Tclingit peoples.  Nancy even got to dance with them in a ceremonial dance with a native costume.   The visit also included a demonstration by the totem pole master carvers.
     From Ketchikan we sailed up into the Tracy Arm and on up to the Sawyer Glacier.   The Arm is a relatively narrow channel with the water near the glacier colored by the glacial melt.  Steep mountains bracketed the channel with awesome views of streams and valleys reaching to the waters edge.  (On board ship we had a lecture each day pertinent to the our sighting of whales, the fisheries and geology of the area.  Superb quality for the presentations.)
    After the glacier we head south to Wrangell, Alaska as the second port of call.  During the sailings we enjoyed socializing at the dinners and lunches.  Many of the cruisers were members of university alumni groups as we were included in the forty or so Cornell Alumni hosted by Terry Hahn of the Cornell Alumni support organization.  Terry and Cornell provided a wonderful evening reception with champagne, goodies and pictures.   We also had a group dinner one evening with singing of Evening Song and the Cornell Alma Mater.     During our Wrangell visit on an island with about 2000 residents we walked the town a bit and visited further indigenous sites and a museum.  More totem poles and visit to a beach with petroglyphs from 2000 to 10,000 years old.
     From Wrangell, Alaska we cruised further south in the inner channel to Prince Rupert, British Columbia for our visit to Canada.  Prince Rupert is a beautiful city on an island as well.  We were greeted as we left the ship by the Mayor flanked by two lovely Canadian Mountie women in splendid dress red.  Our Prince Rupert stop included another indigenous culture museum visit and a stroll through a beautiful seaside memorial park.
Pilot Boat Leaving Ship After Transfer

Lumberjack Show -Ketchikan, Alaska

Nancy, Raven Dancer

Sawyer Glacier in Tracy Arm, Alaska

Cornell Flag, Center

Totem Park, Prince Rupert, B.C.

Mayor, Mounties and Friends, Prince Rupert. B.C.

Regatta Ship in Background of Memorial Park, Prince Rupert, B.C.
    With an evening departure from Prince Rupert we moved into the outer channel out to sea fro our run to Seattle.  On the open sea for the first time we encountered enough of a sea to have significant motion of the ship.   Both an up and down and rolling motion.   Need to have some sea legs.  After a night day and night of sailing we arrive in Seattle to disembark from a glorious journey.
  In retrospect, it is hard to capture all the feelings and experiences of the journey in a narrative.   For us it was wonderful first cruise experience.  Who knows we might do something like this again.   Of course it will have to be during the off ski season!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


   I recently finish a biography of Ezra Cornell in preparation for a presentation I will be making  in September 2014 at the Central New York Living History Museum in Homer, New York.   Although I knew much of the story of Ezra Cornell before, I was incredibly impressed in learning about his generosity in supporting educational, social and agricultural communities.  In fact at his death he had essentially given away almost all of his fortune gained through his development of the telegraph.   He left only a small legacy in land and support for his widow plus questionably valued railroad stock.   However, he has left an extraordinary legacy in the success of Cornell University and also the Tompkins County Library he started in the mid 1800's and still exists today.
   I immensely admire those who have gained so much in their lifetime who are committed to giving it away for worthy causes.   Although we have a plethora of plutocrats who cling to their wealth, we do have people of both modest wealth and extraordinary wealth who are committed to distributing that wealth to worthy causes in their lifetime.   Admittedly, some are holding onto half of their billions.  Not so with Ezra Cornell.
   For those of us with lesser wealth, there is also an opportunity to be generous.   Our philanthropy may not be so noticeable, but we still can support causes without seriously hurting our standard of living.   Once we have assured the comfort our spouse and/or our children of need we are left with other opportunities.,
   Further on the recognition of local philanthropy, I am impressed with the generosity of Peter Grimm whose significant support has enable the success of the Central New York Living History Museum.   Clearly a man of means but not likely a billionaire.
  For many who have started out as impoverished individuals and have accumulated great wealth, I admire their courage to distribute that wealth to worthy causes.  Be that it may that society will generate more of that kind.  Hopefully, our media outlets will ballyhoo those people to encourage more to participate in philanthropy.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Geezer Friendly Ski Areas

   I have been thinking about an App that might be useful to geezer skiers.  (Even though it is the middle of July).  An App that could be on your smart phone, iPad or the like.    Last summer my wife and I used a tennis court finder App while we were traveling across the USA to find a public court where we would stay the night.  It was a great App since it gave the conditions of the court and either an address or GPS coordinates so we could navigate to the court.  Is there a need for a comparable App for ski areas?
     Perhaps we ought be able to offer to the geezer skier an App that would define and rate ski areas for geezer friendliness.   The 70+ Ski Club already publishes data on the ski areas that give us a financial break.   However, there is no information that defines the geezer friendliness of the area.
   So how would one define the geezer friendliness of a ski area?  What criteria would we use?   Here are a few suggestions.
1.  Is there a break on the lift ticket cost?
2.  Special parking for the senior skier?
3.  Discount for food and beverage for the senior skier?
4.  Lift access without a long trek with your gear?
5.  Automatic entrance and exit doors?
6.  Convenient changing areas?
7.  Elevators for multi level lodges?
8.  Hosts and hostesses as volunteer guides?
9.  Periodic complimentary instruction?
10.  Large print ski area maps?
11.  Patience of the service and lift operator staff with the sometimes slower geezer skier?
12.  Significant amount of groomed intermediate trails?
     I am running dry on ideas so readers, let me know if you can think of other criteria one might use.
     If one were to accomplish creating the GeezerSki App it would require assembling data through the cooperation of volunteer geezers across the United States at least.  Through a central clearing house we could assemble the data base and then write the App that one could pull up on their smart phone or computer and based on you location find the most geezer friendly ski area.
      Maybe we could get some young computer hot shot to take this on.  And who knows it could go viral!
     Dear Readers - feedback is welcomed!

Monday, June 23, 2014


  I recently heard an interview of the author of the new book, Carsick on NPR.   A story by John Waters describing a recent cross country hitch hike by the 60 something author.  Apparently the book has three parts.  What happened, the worst that could have happened fiction and the best that could happen fiction.   The interview revived memories of my hitchhiking days in the early to mid 1950's.     My experience with hitchhiking was a mixed bag of good, average and down right terrifying.  In those days, it was common for college students to hitch rides.  Few of us we able to own cars and transportation to home from college was was not very convenient via public transportation.   (Although after a few bad hitchhiking experiences, I did resort to train and bus rides).    For the most part I had rides with cordial, friendly and helpful drivers.  Often they would go out of their way to get me to a new intersection for the next leg of my journey.   However, there  were the terrifying experiences of being picked up by deviants. ( I will not go into detail to describe).  Fortunately I was able to escape those encounters when there was a stop light or stop sign halt.  In some cases it was wise to travel with a friend, even though it was not as easy for two to get a ride.
    In another one of my experiences I learned that not is all what it seems to be and I was too hasty in fearing for my safety.   For the last leg of my journey home to Lyons, New York from Geneva, New York I was offered a ride by a near car full group of Spanish speaking migrant workers.  The driver seemed to know only two ways to drive.  Full brake or full throttle.  As we were tearing down the road at breakneck speed he suddenly said something to his front seat companion.   After the reply from his companion he suddenly slammed on the brakes and jumped out the car, came over to my side rear door and yanked it open.   I immediately thought that I was going to be mugged.  However, much to my amazement, he thought the door had not been fully closed, and he simply slammed it a few times, jumped back in the driver's seat and tore off down the road again.  I guess my heart rate dropped quickly.   Actually I was grateful to get to my destination with such a jovial group.
   Jumping to 2014, I am reminded that hitchhiking seems to be a lost art and probably a good thing.   The interstates likely have significantly reduced the opportunity to hitchhike.   Also, we seem to be living in a more violent world than that of the 1950's.  Maybe, hitchhiking exists in some places in the USA, but during the over 6000 miles Nancy and I traveled over the USA last summer on many secondary roads, we never saw a hitchhiker.
   Ah, well, I do wonder what it would be like to be a geezer hitchhiker today.   Maybe the best thing I can do is to read the book Carsick rather than conduct a field experiment.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Finding Ones Place

    It has been a while since I have written a blog.  For some time I have been waiting for an inspiration to reflect on an issue or theme.  Not necessarily a writer's block but more a matter of having something worthy to put down on paper.   An e-mail today from friend Pat has shaken me out of my slumber.  Not having seen a blog for a considerable time he was concerned that something was wrong.   Fortunately, nothing is wrong other than perhaps a bit of laziness.
   With the above as a preface let me venture into some thoughts spurred by may participation in tennis at the New York State Senior Games in Cortland, New York last week.   I had been signed up both for singles in my age group and mixed doubles in my considerably younger wife's age group.  Playing down as they say for us oldsters when we join the younger set.   In our mixed doubles group it was our misfortune not have any opponents other than us.   Since my wife couldn't make the time for a pickup game of mixed doubles because of a prior commitment, I showed up to participate with anyone that might appear.   I ended up picking up a partner Thoney from Brooklyn and we played a husband and wife team of Roger and Barbara from Ithaca, New York.  (Ages 87 and 86 respectively).   To the delight of Roger and Barbara, they ended up beating us in a set of 8-6.   That put me in my place as the youngster of the group.
   The next day I played my singles matches in my 75-79 age group.  My opening match was a blowout with a win at 6-0, 6-0.   My opponent is a much better player than the score shows but tennis is both a physical an mental game where things can go quickly awry when your opponent gets a fast start.   Over the many years I have been playing in the Senior Games I have played against the same people many times.   So in the semi finals I was bound to encounter my nemesis who has been the champion for more times than I can remember.  We have played both recreationally and competitively for dozens of times.   To be brief, he is an exceptional player and proceeded to show his skills by beating me 6-0, 6-1.   Thank God for getting one game to avoid the humiliation of a double bagel.   Although I was soundly defeated, I had the personal satisfaction of playing up to the level of my ability.   So here is where I get to reflecting on finding ones place.
    In the game of life I would observe we all have to wrestle with finding our place.   Each of us has both a level and type of contribution that represents our character and skills.    It is not to say we will fail to strive to succeed and be better.  We do need higher goals.   However, in the broader scheme of things we may end up being the foils for those who go on to higher levels of achievement.  As I look at pro tennis players, it is the rare few that reach number 1 and stay there for any amount of time.   But without the journeyman tennis players who make up the bulk of the pro population there would be no tournaments or dollars to support the top players.
    I have become  satisfied with my place in hierarchy of my contemporaries in senior singles  tennis.  Third or fourth place seems to be my slot.   Perhaps the greatest satisfaction of place now is that I am still in the game and almost every day my wife and I can play an hour or so of enjoyable tennis.
As to other aspects of my life, I find myself to be in a very good "place" at this stage in my life.  Good health, good friends,  a wonderful marriage,  a faith community, meaningful volunteer opportunities and intellectual stimulation from my Cornell colleagues.   It is nice to have found my place and at the same time have the enthusiasm to seek other places as well.
Geezer Skier and Nancy - July 2013 in Iowa.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Plow Day - Americana

      What else would a geezer skier do on an April Saturday morning but go to a local Plow Day sponsored by the East Homer United Methodist Church?   Held at East Homer, NY this was not a typical display of  the latest tillage tools.   Rather it was a revival of vintage plows and tractors perambulating up and down the field driven by the proud owners of restored and/or original older tractors.   Although the day was grey and cold by normal spring standards, everyone was enjoying the performance.
    Several makes of tractors were on display although the International and John Deere brands dominated.   The unique sound of the two cylinder John Deere's brought back fond childhood and teenage memories of my days on the farm with my parents and brother.   We bought a John Deere B just before WWII.  It was the first "modern" tractor we had on our farm following a steel wheeled Fordson of 1930's vintage.  I learned to operate that tractor and plowed with a trailing two bottom plow.
   It was a pleasure to see several generations of farmers represented at the plow day.   All of them seemed to enjoy observing first hand  a part of our agricultural heritage.   These are durable machines built to last.   A bit of Americana being preserved for future generations.   For anyone wanting to observe vintage tractors, you can visit the Living History Museum of Central New York in Homer, New York.  Over 20 tractors are on display and the display changes yearly to exhibit the entire range of restored vintage tractors.
   Meanwhile, back at the plow day a barbecue, pancake breakfast, bake sale and craft display were a part of the festivities.  The church hopes to raise enough funds to support a softball field in the community.  A visit to the bake sale netted a fresh homemade blueberry muffin and to the delight of my wife, a coconut macaroon pie that was an epitome of the culinary arts.
John Deere 720

Smoking Diesel 

John Deere Model G

New Series John Deere -Four Cylinder

Three Generations -Another Farmer to Be?

Farmall Model M

Plowing Down Corn Stubble
  So there we are,  tough old geezers hobnobbing with tough old geezer tractors.  Still chugging along.  Plow on everyone!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Wrapping It Up

    It has been a great ski season for 2013-14.   This winter has thrown all kinds of weather at us but for the most part we have had sustained access to good to excellent skiing.  Our local ski area closed on April 6 after 120 days of operation not because there isn't enough snow, but more because it is not economical to operate with so few paying customers.  Because of the cold and cloudy weather in the start of spring, we had relatively little "Spring" skiing.  That is, corn snow, sunshine and above 50 F temperatures.
    Now is the time say it is done.   Pat Ryan would say, "Put a fork in it, it is done".  So the gear has been transported home and appropriately conditioned for the off season.  Skis waxed, clothes washed or cleaned and boots thoroughly dried.  Need to thoroughly dry the helmet liner, goggles foam and balaclava to prevent any mildew.  Maybe a little Febreze would help too.
   Now the geezers are on to other things.  Many will golf  the summer and fall away.   Others will be fishermen.  Some of us will hit the tennis courts or do some mountain biking.   Whatever the case, we will enjoy the sun and warmth and look forward to another ski season.  Season passes likely purchased too.
Saturday April 5th Start

Final Day - April 6 - Sunshine and Corn Snow

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Hawaiian Shirt Day at Greek Peak

    The Tough Old Geezer Skiers (TOGS) unofficially sponsored Hawaiian Shirt Day at  Greek Peak today.   We are still playful enough to make a display that puts smiles on the faces of our fellow skiers.  Leis were provided by Andy and it was my pleasure to hand them out to anyone interested or (enough confident of  themselves) to wear them.  We even decorated a lift attendant with one.
   We give credit to the TOGS founder Pat Ryan for inspiring and promoting the Hawaiian day.   He keeps us on our toes at all times and we can always anticipate another one of his Irish jokes which he will introduce with, "I've got another Irish joke for you."
   It was a great day of skiing and it was good to celebrate before the rain and warm weather hits.  Farewells were exchanged with several geezers who were hanging up the skis for this season at the end of this day.  However, some of us will be making turns for as many days that the ski area is open.  
Pat, Andy and Gerry Ready to Rock and Roll

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Winding Down - Spring Skiing?

Early Morning Line Up

   Here we are at the end of March and still skiing with mid winter conditions.  Most of the geezer group continues to faithfully show up each day for our mid-week 11:00 AM opening hour.   However, a few have stored the skis and anticipate heading to the golf course in a few weeks or taking up fishing on April 1.
   So far we have not really had any Spring skiing.  You know, the sunny days with corn snow and temperatures in the 40's.   Today's skiing was an example of the madness of March weather.  Temperatures in the teens, a ferocious 30 mile wind and overnight a dump of three inches of powder.   Not a typical spring day on the slopes.   For those of us that are die hard skiers we relish these final days of skiing.   If all goes well I can anticipate having skied over three months of days before the spring thaw hits us.   It will be interesting to see how the season winds down this year.  Will we get a sudden warm up with rain and see the snow disappear in a few days?   Or will the skier numbers drop so fast that the area will close in spite of suitable snow cover?   Whatever happens I will mark this season as one of the greatest in recent years.
Would You Believe - March 26?
   All in all I am very thankful for the socialization and exercise for the past several months.  However, there is a time to transition to other activities.  I am beginning to see all the little chores I have put off and recognize that my saint of a wife will welcome my attention directed to joining her on the tennis court.  God bless her for tolerating my addiction to skiing.  

Bob and Andy Prepared for the Worst