Monday, December 21, 2015

Finally - Opening Day- A Great Feeling

      The long awaited opening day at Greek Peak has happened.  Today was day to ski just the Alpha slope.   Rather decent surface even if there were a few mud streaks in places.   It was good to get a ski fix.
     Alpha slope is basically a beginners slope that works for early instruction in skiing and boarding.  So if nothing else is available, what should one do there?   Obviously a good time to work on fundamentals.   Although I did a bit of free skiing,  I did also spend a bit of time on edge control, body positioning and the like.   Still trying to lay down those perfect parallel tracks.
       After so many years of skiing, one would think you would not get so excited about being on the slopes again.  Not so!  The old heart quickens and the enthusiasm kicks in.  Almost like being a teenager again.   Hooray for day 1 of a new season.  May the snow gods dump on us in the coming weeks.
   If anyone of of you regular readers need photos of opening day, go to my Facebook page.  Come on you old geezers get with the modern social media if you haven't already.
   Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays or whatever you like.  All good wishes to everyone.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Skier's Lament

    As  an avid geezer skier I always look forward to the start of a ski season and hope for an extended period of good snow and cold weather.   This year has to be one of the most vexing delays to the start of the season that I can remember in over 20 years of logging the characteristics of the season.  The latest start for me in the past was December 22, 2001 for the 2001-2002 season.   Even so, I was able to get in 8 days of skiing before the first of January.   Greek Peak predicts and December 22 opening day this year.  Based on the rain today and the warm weather predicted for next week, I surely doubt that we will get any skiing before January!   Oh that I will be wrong!   I can only hope for a miracle that Greek can make enough snow this weekend with the predicted brief cold spell.
      However unsettling the delay of the season is for me, it is devastating for the people who rely on the ski season for employment.  I know that many of the lift attendants count on shifting from their summer employment to the jobs at the ski area.   And no doubt the ski instructor staff, wait staff and others suffer from the snow drought as well.  Their pain is much more critical than mine.
      Meanwhile, the only alternative I have is to be distracted by other projects or transport myself to some place there is snow.  Oh how I envy son Colin and his family departure for Utah later this week!  The Wasatch is getting a dump of snow and Alta and Snowbird will be swimming in powder.   Although traveling to a snow area is an alternative, I have reached an age where the rigors of airline travel severely discourage the effort.
    So while my skis languish in my locker and my boots and ski clothing remain in storage, I find myself into the decluttering mode.   Over many years of various construction and remodeling projects, I have accumulated odds and ends of tools, nails, screws and a miscellany of hardware.   With my extra time I will trash, sort and give away this debris.
       Thankfully I have 20 years of ski logs to relive those past great days on the slopes.  

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

I Hate Global Warming

    My commute to my Cornell office gives me time to muse about the state of the world both locally and globally.   On this early December day I lament the mild and rainy weather.  It should be snowing and cold.   Our local ski area should be making snow at least.  However neither of those conditions exist.   Dairy cows that normally reside in their snug barns are grazing on  green grass.   Harvested soy bean and corn fields lie bare to the sullen low flying clouds.   And the bare, recently manured fields spice the air with the pungent odor of cow manure.
   I hate global warming!  Post Thanksgiving, skiers in Upstate New York should be on the slopes.  Perhaps I was spoiled by last years ski season.   We were on the slopes shortly after Thanksgiving and I even had a record 20 days of skiing before January 1.  Doesn't look like skiing will start much before Christmas.  Sunday I passed by Greek Peak.   One slope had the appearance of a dappled horse's flank.   Small separated patches of white against a dun brown background.   Alas, warm weather is predicted for at least the next 10 days.
   While the delayed start of my ski season is an annoyance, it is not such a dire circumstance as the potential change in sea level inundating many cities and parts of the world.   Nor is it as dire as the disruption of the ecosystems.   It is predicted that global warming will increase extreme variations in weather.   Perhaps we are seeing that this year.   Parts of the Western United States and the Midwest have been inundated with snow and rain, while the East has been dryer and hotter.
     Meanwhile my geezer skier friends in the East, we will have to be patient for the time being.   However, Going to the gym, walking the treadmill, or simply walking the neighborhood will have to do for now.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Farm Machinery Boneyard and Pluto

    Hopefully the title of this blog will pique your interest!   The two parts are related.  Some of you may know that Clyde Tombaugh was the discoverer of Pluto in 1930 while at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona.   Tombaugh was a farm boy from Kansas who was mostly a self taught astronomer.   While on the farm in his youth and early adulthood he made his own lenses and telescopes.   The telescopes were made from scavenging the remnants of old farm machinery.   How great it is that old farm machinery morphed into a scientific instrument.
    Tombaugh corresponded with the people at the Lowell Observatory and convinced them to hire him even though he had no formal training in astronomy.  He was assigned all the nitty gritty tasks to maintain the facilities as well as the opportunity to make observations with a telescope.  There were theoretical calculations that there had to be another body beyond the 8 planets already discovered.   Variations  in the orbit of Neptune seemed to indicate the presence of an additional planet.    Tombaugh was given the tedious task of looking for the elusive planet.  The process was to use a blink comparator which would photograph the same area of the sky at defined times.   By comparing photographs one could observe points of light that move and thus track an object moving in space.    It was an onerous task but farm boy Tombaugh stuck with it and succeeded where others did not have the same tenacity.
     Tombaugh stayed with the Lowell Observatory over most of his career and lived to a ripe old age of 90.   He did complete bachelors and masters degrees in astronomy too.   Ah yes, he became an esteemed geezer with several international awards!
     Recently my wife and I visited the Lowell Observatory and viewed the telescope that Tombaugh used for his discovery.   How timely, in view of the recent fly by of Pluto by a space probe!
     Is there a connection to skiing here?   Of course!   While in Flagstaff  we made a side trip to the Snowbowl Ski Area.   Perched at a base elevation of 9200 feet in the San Francisco Peaks the lifts will elevate you an additional 2300 feet to a breath taking 11,500 feet.   As I hiked there, I struggled to get enough oxygen from the thin air.  There was a dusting of snow on the higher elevations.  A precursor to the over 200 annual inches of snow recorded  there.  
   Our stay in Flagstaff was a nice mix of science/engineering and ski area exploration.
The Pluto Dome and Telescope

Pluto Telescope - An Astrograph

Arizona Machinery Boneyard - Potential Telescope?

Monday, October 12, 2015

Silos and Ski Lifts

    Question:  What do silos and ski lifts have in common?   I think the answer is they both are indicators of the progression of successful businesses.  
   As I travel the dairy country of upstate New York, silos are typically skyline markers.   As consolidation of the dairy industry has occurred over many years, abandoned barns and silos are frequent indicators of this trend.   However, over the same time, successful dairies sport a progression of larger and larger silos.   Also as the dairy has expanded the barns get larger as more cows are added.
  As I observe the ski industry, a similar trend has occurred.   Some ski areas have been abandoned or in some cases they have been absorbed into larger more successful operations.   For the successful ski areas, a progression of more and better ski lifts occur.   Also just as the dairy farmer adds more structures to house the larger herd, the ski area expands the lodges and service facilities.
    So, I conclude silos and ski lifts have an interesting connection.   I think the two photos below confirm my conjecture.  Note the dairy with a progression of larger and larger silos  from right left in the photo.  Also note a larger barn from right to left plus a large free stall structure on the far left.   I regret that my ski lift photo does not capture all the possibilities at a ski area.   However, I have been at ski areas that show a progression form a rope tow to t-bar, to double chair, to triple chair and even to quad chair.
    Perhaps all these musings confirm that my interests in engineering, agriculture and skiing do converge.   I like making connections between disparate things!

A prospering dairy of Cortland County, New York
New quad chair on the left replaces a double chair.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Ski Area Construction Entertainment

  Visited my local ski area on this sunny October afternoon to scope out the new deck over the stream outside the Trax restaurant at Greek Peak.  A friend mentioned this construction in passing a few days ago.  He suggested I should check it out.
    The photos below illustrate the magnitude of the project.  I have built a lot of decks in my lifetime as home projects, but this one sure exceeds anything I have ever done.   The support beams are massive steel I beams and by my engineering estimate you could drive semis across that deck without any concern.   There  was some attempt to beautify with stone columns and they do add some grace to the structure.   To an engineer the under structure has a symmetry and bold lines that are pleasing to view.  Since the stream was nearly dry, I could get a streams eye view that will not be available this winter.  
    Looking forward to the ski season and the chance to lounge on the deck and view the skiers on the slope.   A nice addition and upgrade to the area.  Sorry that I didn't get to see the various stages of the project over the summer.

Down Stream View from the Creek Bed

Upstream View

Support Beams

Decorative Columns

Supporting Steel 

Upstream View

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Technological Revolution -A Boon or Curse?

   For those of us who have lived 80 years or more, we have seen amazing advances in technology.   I grew up with no telephone, no central heat and no indoor plumbing.   As a kid I remember the comic strip Dick Tracy with the futuristic wrist radio.  Today we have the iWatch and the Android equivalent capable of a whole spectrum of uses.
    For the most part I love the data I get with the technological toys of today.  My auto display tells me my miles per gallon, time travelled and average speed for every trip, large or small,  I take.   I have a weather station connected to the Internet.  Any where I am in the world I can bring up the current weather at my home as well as the minute by minute record of the past weather.  
    As a skier, I am thrilled to know that my skis, bindings,  outdoor clothing  and helmets will continue to improve.  And it is nice to know you can get an App that to track your vertical on any ski day.
    So when does all this technological advancement become a curse?    It seems like one or another of my devices will have a glitch that needs attention.  Almost every day I am dealing with issues with my smart phone, iPad, iMac, PC, Apple TV etc.   In some respects I am addicted to E-mail, texting, and Facebook.   Fortunately, I think I have come to grips with enough is enough!  
    For approximately a year I had been using my Kindle App on my iPad to read books.  It's a convenient way to access books.  However, recently, I have rebelled.   I am now enjoying the feel of a hard cover book in my hands.   Very satisfying to turn the pages, mark the progress with a bookmark and consume the content in the old-fashioned way.   And although it is convenient to text the children to keep in contact, face to face conversation is so much better.
    Ski season is but a few months away.  A great time to spend less time gazing at screen.   Though most of the geezer skiers have their smart phones handy at coffee break, it would be rude to have those devices interfere with the camaraderie of that time.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Deja Vu All Over Again - Empire Farm Days 2015

  Yesterday I made my annual visit to the Empire Farm Days near Seneca Falls, New York.  A great farm show featuring the latest is agricultural machinery and technology.  Long ago I grew up on a general farm and was always fascinated by farm machinery.   Now some 65 years or so later I can reflect on the evolution of technology from my youth to now.   Incredible changes have taken place.   The simple and relatively small tractors of my youth have evolved to sophisticated behemoths with all kinds of bells and whistles including air conditioned cabs and driver less operation.   Implements have also evolved to incorporate computers and controls for precision seeding and fertilizer application.  
    Here is an example of one evolution of a an implement.    The round baler.   Pictured below is the Allis-Chalmers round baler introduced in the later 1940's.   It produced  a round bale small enough to be handled by a person.   That technology was revolutionary for its time since small square bales were the norm.  Fast forward to 2015 and take a look at the second photo of the large round baler of today capable of producing a wrapped bale of a thousand pounds or so.  Obviously a bale to be handled by machinery.  
    Another observation is the worldwide nature of implement manufacturing. John Deere and Case and New Holland are familiar United States tractor manufactures, for the larger machines.   For the smaller tractors there is a multitude of overseas manufacturers.   South Korea, Japan, India and so on are in the mix.  I was amazed at the number of brands I had been unaware of.  A few pictures below illustrates the proliferation of brands.
   On the social side of my farmers holiday, it was fun to observe the community at the show and to connect with some of the folks operating the booths and displays.   Numerous Amish families were evident by their dress and the size of their young families.   Many of the older and retired farmers were handicapped enough to be riding around the grounds in golf carts.  Enticing food was available at several venues run by run churches, associations and service groups.   A money making opportunity for those agencies.  Enticing smells of barbecue beef, chicken and pork wafted over the grounds.   (Lunch for me was one of the biggest "small" barbecued pork sandwiches I had ever eaten).    The whole gala is run by what used to be the Potato Growers Association.   Many youth hired for the event are attired in brightly colored tee shirts and add a robust youthful ambiance to the program.
     In closing, I bask in the memory of my day hobnobbing with the agricultural community.  I covered all the exhibits, ate some good barbecue,  saw some friends, and got my days worth of exercise.   In a sense I am continuing a family tradition since my father was an annual visitor to the precursor of the Empire Farm Days.   And so I honor him this day as well.

Allis-Chalmers Round Baler
Modern Round Baler

Youth Crew 

Monday, August 3, 2015

More Construction Entertainment

  It is has been a busy summer.  The transition from skiing to tennis was smooth and lawn mowing has been a frequent activity along with landscape maintenance.  No trouble keeping this geezer busy with weeding, mulching, pruning and mowing.   The urge to blog has come and gone while I have waited for inspiration to write again.     A family genealogy activity has also engaged my creative efforts.   However today I am motivated to follow up one of my earlier blogs about construction entertainment.
    This morning I went out for an early walk/run in my neighborhood in training for a 5K walk/run in Homer, NY this coming Saturday.   The finish to my training passes by an new home being built in our neighborhood.   The construction is even visible from my front yard.   Over the past several months I have been watching the progress of the construction.   Building progressed from excavation to foundation to rough framing to sheathing roofing and siding in sequence.   Interior finish is now in full swing.   Recently there have been piles of soil in the front yard in anticipation of grading the site ready to eventually seed the lawn.  
    A bulldozer was parked in the yard as I finished my walk and the operator was doing a walk around the site.   Several obstacles are marked out in the area and I presume he was making sure he would miss the buried cables and so forth when he went to work.   As I cooled down from my walk I got my camera knowing that I was going to see a pro at work.   Sure enough it was a performance to bring a smile to my face.  This guy was a truly skilled operator.   I am sure that he could pick my teeth with the dozer blade if necessary.   Very skillfully he cut the banks,  moved the piles, smoothed the surface and neatly extracted the clumps around the cable riser and so forth.   Hats off to these people that are so creative in their own way.   To me construction work is an art form to be appreciated.
A Work in Progress

Move That Dirt!

Monday, June 8, 2015

On Being Eighty

   Must be I am truly into geezer territory now.  A month or so ago I reached a milestone birthday of 80 years.   Now entering my ninth decade.  Oh where oh where did the time go!  The step is a little slower but I still like to think that exercise and good living can slow the ravages of time.
   There have been a lot of interesting events since my 80th birthday in April.  A particular notable event was my 80th family birthday party in Saratoga Springs on May 3rd.   A date arranged so lovingly by my wife almost a year in advance.  It takes that amount of early planning to get all the family in one place in view of their many different schedules.   As one who has parented seven children (four biological and three who have become my children through marriage) I have enjoyed a rich and fulfilling variety of experiences.   All of them bring to the party spouses, companions, children and even offspring of their children.   Yes, I am even a great-grandfather three times over.
It was amazing that all but two of the grandchildren were there.   One had a work conflict and the other was on a semester of studies in Israel.   What a delight to celebrate with the crew.   They made me feel like king for the day.   Perhaps I should be identified more with Abraham of the bible!   He had a complicated family tree for sure.   Dear wife Nancy provided amazing activities.   There was a scavenger hunt,  activity bags for the little ones and a trivia exercise challenging the family to answer questions about my life.   A most wonderful day of food, entertainment, photography, and socializing.  Makes me hopeful to reach 90 to have another great milestone celebration.
   At Cornell on May 24th I joined the faculty procession for Cornell graduation.   This is the Sesquicentennial year for Cornell.   150 years since the charter in April of 1865.   In my 80th year I mark 62 years of association with Cornell starting with my first undergraduate year in 1953.   It was a progression of undergraduate, to graduate student to faculty and more recently professor emeritus.   Not half of Cornell's existence, but pretty close.   The oak trees lining Tower Road on campus when I arrived were young trees if not nearly saplings.  Now they are mighty oak trees with trunks two or more feet in diameter.
    Not all events in ones eightieth years are likely to be joyful.   There is also the time to mourn contemporaries who pass on.   Such was the case on May 30 at a service for a class of 1952 high school classmate.    A service at his church in my home town was a celebration of his lifetime in his birth community.   It was an amazing tribute to a  happy-go-lucky fellow with an upbeat demeanor and a zest for life.   I would observe that everyone has the opportunity to leave a unique legacy, regardless of your calling in life.
   With this new age milestone, I have move into a new bracket in the Empire State Senior Games.   Some of my usual tennis opponents are still languishing in the 75-79 bracket.  Looking forward to some of them joining me next year.   Meanwhile, my bracket is rather thin with only one opponent in the bracket this year.   We had a spirited contest in the "final".   A close match that I regret to have choked in the tie-breaker after a strong lead early on.   Ah well at this point my mantra becomes.   "For the love of game".   Also, at this point showing up is a win.
    So, being eighty is really just another step along the way.   Each day is a gift to be enjoyed to the fullest.   For this day, I had hoped to play tennis this afternoon.  However, the weather is dreadful with rain, wind and lightning.   Time to crank up the treadmill!   Remember, 30 minutes of vigorous exercise a day is a goal for good health.   Maybe I better get one of those FitBits.
The Little Ones - Great grandchildren plus a mom of two.

The Grandchildren minus two.

The Children.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Writing Muse

      I can't believe I missed writing a blog for much of April and all of May 2015.  Maybe I am just slowing up.   I hate to think that turning 80 in April somehow was a milestone that means one is supposed to be slowing down.    I like to think more likely I haven't slowed down but I was waiting for meaningful thoughts to be shared.    Better to be silent than to be foolish.
    Each day for the past several months I have been reading and listening to the Writer's Almanac hosted by Garrison Keillor.     I find this daily exercise much more satisfying than reading about movie stars, comics and other celebrities that are routinely featured in our newspapers.   To me the writers, poets, historians, inventors,  and others substantial contributors to society featured in Writer's Almanac are far more edifying,  inspiring and important.   Although my professional career has been engineering and academia, I find now I aspire to being able to write meaningful essays, history and maybe poetry.    With that ambition, I know that I have to find the right Muse for my writing urge.  
     At the start of this blog I was inspired to write about the experience of the geezer skier.   It was an intent to speak to the quirks of the more senior skiers.  Perhaps now I have moved beyond that limited scope and will find opportunities to explore other subjects.   The common advice to aspiring writers is to write about things you have experienced.  I guess that can be your everyday activities and sometimes the insights you encounter in your musings.    Meanwhile, I look forward to exercising my "writing muscles" more frequently.   If you are one of my followers, stay tuned.

Thursday, April 23, 2015


     The ski season ended for me on April 11, 2015.   After  100 days of skiing for the season it seemed appropriate to wrap it up on my 80th birthday.   One would expect spring conditions in mid April but not so.   More like the usual firm conditions of winter.   To confirm the end of the season, I had my skis waxed and sharpened to be stored in my locker in anticipation of the next season.  You might say it was a transitional ritual.  
   This is the time to transition to other things.  Although we play tennis indoors during the winter, we always look forward to the start of the outdoor season.   Fortunately the weather for the second week of April cooperated.  Not the case this week!  Cold, rainy and snowy weather has eliminated outdoor tennis for now.   Exercise in lieu of skiing or tennis now takes the form of long walks on the treadmill in the sun room.
   Reaching the beginning of the ninth decade of life brings on some reflections.   Now that I am eighty do I see myself differently and likewise do others.   Now that I am through with skiing, I spend more time in my emeritus  office at Cornell so I get to interact with a much younger crowd.   The late teen to early twenty students that I advise seem to accept me as a "wise" and seasoned prof.   The active faculty group seems tolerate the old guard with a certain respect.   In some respects returning to the campus is like putting on a comfortable pair of shoes.  So the routine changes.  Days on campus involved in projects that both serve and pique my curiosity.  Days at home completing chores and playing tennis with my wife are further satisfying.   And I throw in a bit of travel now and then to change the scenery.
    Further, speaking of transitions, Cornell University is in the midst of celebrating 150 years of existence.  My association with Cornell started in a a formal sense in 1953 as an undergraduate student so by now I have 62 years of involvement with this great institution.   In honor of that involvement, I will participate in the Charter Day celebration this coming Monday including marching in the procession in Barton Hall.  Should be fun!
Mann Library Gallery of Exhibits
    Finally, it is also good to be returning to a pet project of displaying objects from the Cornell Agricultural Museum first established in 1877.   We have just finished setting up a display of antique model plows other farm machinery in the Mann Library Gallery at Cornell.  See the photos below for the display.   Come one come all and take a look.  
   Meanwhile transitions will continue.   Perhaps there will be more frequent posts to this blog!
 Sales and Patent Models of Farm Machinery

Models of Farm Machinery and Fences

Rau Model Plow Collection - Evolution of the Plow

Friday, March 27, 2015

Chance Encounter of the Best Kind

    Is there something special about a ski resort that makes people friendlier?  I've noticed that strangers often begin talking to one another with little prompting.  That was my delightful experience today.
    It was a quiet day a Greek Peak today so when I took my morning coffee break there  were only three of us in the Taverna cafeteria.    I took my place at a table somewhat near a couple who was gazing out the window at the entrance to the quad chair lift.   She glanced over at me with a smile and nod and I returned the smile of acknowledgement.   As I was eating my donut I heard an accent which sounded Irish to me.   I made some comment to that effect and was astonished to hear they were from Australia.   From there we went on to an exchange of pleasantries as if we were old friends from way back.  
    Kevin and Terese are from a farm about 30 kilometers from Melbourne, Australia.  They have been a host family for Australian visitors for several years and now are on a tour of Northeast USA visiting and staying with one of the families they hosted.  They operate a dairy farm in their native country so Kevin and I have a mutual interest in agriculture.   Among other mutual experiences would be the parenting of seven children.  It would take too long to relate here the extent of information exchange that took place of 30 minutes or so.   They truly had enjoyed their stay at Hope Lodge and looked forward to traveling to Niagara Falls later in the day.  Perhaps via Cornell University that was well known and respected in their eyes.,  
     I took my leave to return to the slopes, not expecting to encounter them again for the day (or ever).    To my surprise, as I approached the entrance to the lift, their two children, Kate and Jimmy who were the skiers were talking with the lift attendant about the various trails on the mountain.   I introduced myself and suggested that rather than rely on the lift attendant's directions, I could guide them to a few trails appropriate to their level of ability.    From there we enjoyed an hour or so of mutual appreciation of the art and skill of skiing.   Kate is a competent skier capable of skiing the whole area.  Jimmy, however, had one lesson yesterday.   To my surprise, Jimmy had learned enough to be quite safe on some of the easier intermediate trails.   Obviously a fast learner!
     After leaving Kat and Jimmy, I finished my quota of runs and prepared to depart for home.   As an afterthought, I rightly guessed the family would be having lunch in Trax Restaurant.  On the chance they might want to contact me in the future, I left my card touting this  blog and bid them farewell.
    One would expect that to be the end of surprises for the day.  Not so!  In the cafe at the exit to the restaurant I ran into veterinarian friend Mark who was taking some time off from his practice to get in a few ski runs.   Another chance encounter of the best kind!  
Kate and Jimmy at the entrance to the Terrain Park.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A 95th Birthday Celebration

   Dean the the Tough Old Geezer Skiers of Greek Peak celebrated his 95th birthday on the slopes today.  With wife Nita and daughters Linda and Patricia in attendance Pret enjoyed his special day in the spring sunshine with several runs before lunch and had the energy to hit the slopes again for an afternoon run.   Pret was all smiles and all of us who have the privilege to know Pret were wearing big grins as well.  What a delight share a run with him and his family.
   Pret was the center of attention and a cadre of observers were vicariously enjoying his celebration.  Pret sets the standard of aspiration for all of us geezer skiers!  He is truly our hero!
   All the best to not only a great ski legend, but also one of the finest persons I have ever known.  God bless!
Patricia, Pret and Linda at the lift.

Pret and Linda ready to launch.

Linda, Pret and Patricia - mid run photo op.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Celebration Rituals - Hawaiian Shirt Day

  The last couple of years we have celebrated the near end of the ski season with a Hawaiian Shirt Day.   The idea was the brainchild of Pat Ryan of our geezer group.   One way or the other we have all obtained a Hawaiian shirt or even we may have already had one from a Hawaiian visit.  Some of us got our shirts on line.  In my case a visit to the Salvation Army Thrift Store was the best bet.  Andy is our source of plastic leis that he got from an on line store.
    Today was too cold for shorts or bikinis!  In the past we have had some of the ladies appearing in hula skirts over their ski gear too.   A small crowd today but still a lot of enthusiasm and fortunately some sunshine.    Yes, another ritual added to the repertoire of the Tough Old Geezer Skiers.
Dick, Andy, John, Pat, Midge, and Bob

Bob, Andy, John, Pat, Gerry and Bob

Monday, March 23, 2015

Inside and Outside Fun

    Each day at our ski area is a combination of both inside and outside fun.  Of course, skiing is the main thing on the minds of the gathered geezers but the socialization is also a  major part of the day's fun.   Some days are almost magical  when the conditions are absolutely fabulous.  This has been a great year.  Probably one of the best years for many successive days of excellent conditions.    See the photo for the groomed slope that greeted us last Thursday March 19, 2015.
   A good ski day not only has super slope conditions but also has a large and boisterous gathering for morning coffee and hot chocolate.  The photo below captures one of our larger gatherings last week.   One table is not enough.  Haven't reached three tables yet, but who knows it may happen.    At this particular gathering we were expressing our sympathy to John and Midge seated at the far end of the table.  They live up a mile long lane to their home and were snowed in for several weeks and unable to keep their lane open.  A tragedy they were unable to get out to ski for a while.  (They are back today - hooray!)
    The skiing is scheduled to last into April and then it will be withdrawal time.   Even as an avid skier, I think I will be ready for another daily round of fun!  Tennis time for me and my wife!  And golfing for other geezers!  Life is good.
Post the big snowstorm grooming.

Dick, Gerry, Andy, Midge, John, Allen, Pat, Larry and Phil.
Bob the photographer not shown.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Fifth Annual Geezer Skiers Luncheon

  How quickly time flies!  This past Thursday, March 12, 2015 was the occasion of our 5th Annual Geezer Skiers Luncheon at Greek Peak.  Our gathering was graced with a social hour, a great buffet luncheon and a brief program in the Adirondack Room of Hope Lodge.  Special thanks goes to Larry Monheim for arranging our gathering and program.  This event is a celebration of another great year on the ski slopes.   As geezers we probably appreciate each season more than most skiers.   We know that we are privileged to be on the slopes at our advancing age and never know what another year might bring.  I am not intending to be melancholy but more being realistic.  For that reason each day on the slope is a joy to be savored and perhaps at one time to be stored up for the memory bank.
   After our consumption of the fine food provided, our program consisted of a few appropriate jokes and other commentary.   And of course our resident Irishman, Pat Ryan,  aptly related a hilarious Irish joke.  Typically this skier provides us with a joke of the week to entertain us at our coffee breaks.  At such an event we make it a point to recognize special people in our community.   Once again we recognize Pret Goslee (soon to be 95) as our most senior member.  And we too recognize his wife Nita as another one of our skiing heroes.
  Last year I was awarded the First Flake Award in honor of being a geezer most likely to be on the slope almost every day of the week.   This year's recipient was Tom McCarthy.  To our regret Tom on Wednesday became hospitalize with a medical issue and was unable to attend.   We hear that his surgery was successful and we look forward to seeing on the slope next year.  He is a most intrepid skier who is almost always the first on the lift in the morning.   In his inimitable style he will cruise the slope with tenacity.
   We were pleased that owners Marc and John were in attendance at our lunch too.   As a part of the program they graciously heard kudos and gripes from the assembled geezer group.  Our emphasis was on both praise and suggestions for improvement of the skier experience.   In turn Marc and John had an opportunity to inform us of the challenges they face in making the business a success both for them and for us.
   As a community, I believe we parted in good humor with full stomachs and enthusiasm for finishing a great season of skiing.  We look forward to another great year for 2015-2016.   Now is the time to purchase next year's season pass.
Cheers everyone!
Nita and Pret Goslee

Greek Peak Owners, John and Marc

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Geezer Outing - Toggenburg

   After skiing the same ski area for a huge number of days during the ski season, one looks for an occasional change of scenery.  For our geezer group, a trip to Toggenburg Mountain in Fabius, New York has become a diversion and even maybe now a tradition.  All of the geezer group of our local area is invited and our expedition numbers can vary from four to ten skiers.  
   Today six of us made the journey.   The drill usually consists of some of us sharing rides, and others coming from diverse locations journeying alone.  We will arrive near the appointed lift opening hour.  Today we were surprised to find the lifts were to open an hour later than usual.   We cooled our heels (and warmed our boots) for an hour with coffee and homemade donuts.
    Although we have skied Toggenburg several times before, we spent the first hour or so exploring vaguely remembered trails.   The early morning 10 F temperature  encouraged our coffee break after a multiple of runs.  Due to the late start, our gourmet lunch at the Foggy Goggle Restaurant was delayed to after 1:00 PM.   We were very appreciative of the warm welcome by the restaurant manager and dined with zestful glee on burgers and paninis served with delicious home made french fries.  Sure beats McDonalds!
    Ski conditions were superb and for the geezers you can beat the price of free lift tickets!  The warmth of the welcome of the Toggenburg folks sends us home with a glow of appreciation and anticipation of a nice nap!
The Intrepid Crew - Roger, Andy, Dick, Pat, Tom, and Yours Truly

Monday, February 16, 2015

Personal Playground

     This was a single digit day of skiing.  Temperature that is.  Minus 2 F at the start and warming up to plus 5 F by mid day.   The snow was beautiful in the sparkling winter sun.   No day to have any flesh exposed either to the natural wind or the breeze created during a ski run.
    In spite of the temperature, it was an amazingly good day for skiing.   Only a few hardy souls were on the slopes.   Very few people for a holiday.   And the geezer group was strikingly absent.   Today, there were so few people that the area seemed like my own personal playground.   Surprised that I was no colder today than some of our 20 F days in the past.  
Mid day and not another skier in sight!


Friday, February 13, 2015

Ruts, Routines and Rituals

  During the ski season I get into a routine.  Six days a week I like to head to the ski slopes.  The seventh day is a day of rest.  There are several elements to the routine.   Rise by 8:00 AM,  shower, breakfast, and don the appropriate gear for the anticipated weather.  Of course I will fill my thermos with my special coffee and bag my usual apple fritter for the morning coffee break.  Out the door by 8:50 for a ten minute ride to the slope over the standard route.   Friday and Saturday breaks the routine since tennis is on the agenda for Friday morning followed by skiing in the afternoon.  A double dose of exercise.   With lifts opening at 8:30 AM on Saturday, all the morning activities are the same but shifted an hour earlier.   Although one might think this could feel like getting into a rut, it is not so.   Every day the weather and ski conditions are different.  Therefore, there is always a fresh perspective on the art of skiing.
    And then there are rituals.   It seems that among our geezer group there is a consistent behavior that borders on a ritual.   Each day there is the gathering at the locker area to exchange greetings and discuss events of the day.  Booting up is completed and twosomes, threesomes and such trek out to the base of the ski lift.  As we await the opening of the lift a light banter crackles through the air.   For many of us our morning ritual is to ski the trails in order from green to black diamond in sequence that rarely varies.   Occasionally, one or another of us plays the rebel and breaks that ritual.
    Depending on the conditions and weather, six or seven runs are completed in time for a mid morning coffee break.   Thus the coffee ritual begins.   There are individual idiosyncrasies   I must have my apple fritter and my thermos coffee.  Others eschew any food while some will consume fruit or nuts.   After an appropriate amount of conversation, it is time for the slopes again.   Some will cut out for the day, while others will return for the late morning into the afternoon runs.
   Thursday past I decided to shake up the crew a little bit.  Because the crew has chided me about my ritualistic consumption of an apple fritter each day, I decided to treat them to a doughnut fest.   Maybe, it is just a way of giving back to all these fine folks that have brightened my ski day for many days over the years.  See the photo below.
     I conclude our ski days have routines and rituals.  However, never do I feel we are in a rut.   Routines and rituals bring order but we are still are geezers with a sense of adventure and break out the routines and rituals on occasion.
Left to Right:  Pat, Dick, Ruth, Tom, Andy, Gerry, Roger, Frank, Phil, Larry, and Bob

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Contrasts - Super Days on the Slopes

  How amazing?  Two consecutive days on the same slope could be so different.   There were sun drenched runs for all afternoon on Tuesday.  The snow was perfect hard pack.  One could chase their shadow down the slope in a majestic dance.  Almost like being a ballet dancer.   A marvelous experience in the brisk winter air of 18 degrees F or so.
   What a change for today!   An eight inch powder snow arrived over night.  Quite unexpected but truly welcomed by the skiers this morning.  Grey skies did not dampen the spirits of those gathered for the first tracks.  Not only first tracks early, but untracked stashes were sustained over most of the day.   Some geezers found the conditions a bit daunting, but most adapted.   The occasional whoops of many were testimony to the delight of having some "real" snow to blast through.
   Ski seasons in the east are marked with many contrasts.   Conditions change markedly from day to day.   Two days of magnificent skiing in a row is unusual. If bad things happen in threes, can't good things happen in threes too?  So here's to a great day tomorrow to complete the triplet.
Tuesday,  Chasing Shadows

Wednesday, Same Slope, Powder Heaven

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Perfect Turn

   Every geezer skier I meet aspires to the perfect turn.   Wherever we gather, frequently the conversation will drift to matters of technique to attain the perfect turn.   What is the best way to lay down perfect carved turns?   There are many versions of the motions needed to attain the perfect carved turn.   Different ski school gurus are out to sell their brand and set of rules for attaining the perfect carve.   The Professional Ski Instructors Association pushes their own methodology but seem to be flexible enough to accept that there are many ways to accomplish the same thing.  They focus on making sure the student is enjoying the sport.
    I am always trying to perfect my technique while still simply enjoying the sport.   Some days I can really be in the zone.  Other days it can be a different matter.    As a geezer, I recognize I will never reach the expert level of my son and a daughter  who are PSIA certified at the highest level.    However, I do know I can continue to improve.   For many years until his demise, friend Marty Stiles and I spent many hours working on technique and discussing new approaches to skiing.   Marty, who only started skiing at 65 was a wonderful role model as an enthusiastic learner.
   In conclusion, here is a Skier Haiku poem that is advice on how to make the perfect carved turn.
  Perfect Turn

Tilt to little toe.
Other ski follows along.
Perfect carve is done.

Giving Back

    Greek Peak has hosted Hope on the Slopes - Ski and Ride for a Cure for the last two years.  This is an event to raise support for the American Cancer Society to find a cure.   Today was the day of the event for this year.
   As I entered the lodge this morning I was pleased to make my contribution to the cause and chat with Charlene Piercy, Executive Director of Hope on the Slopes.   Along with her assistant Devon she was welcoming the skiers who had sponsors and of course willingly accepting contributions for the cause.
   It was a chilly day, but the sponsored skis were truly dedicated to getting as much vertical as possible to bring in the bucks.   After bibbing up and getting their transponders to measure the runs, they were out on the slopes.   Conditions were fabulous.   Many slopes were groomed to perfection.  And with the latest natural snow there were fun stashes to slice through.
     It is heartwarming to recognize the dedication of the skiers who spent their day giving back and at the same time enjoying snow sports.   Would it be that all of us could both enjoy our activities and give back as well.
    Cancer has probably touched almost everyone of us in our lifetime.  Either through our own personal battle or through the challenges to our friends and loved ones.   Honor to those who fight for the cure.  
Charlene and Devon

Ski Bib
     Meanwhile, it was a fabulous day on the slopes.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


            I like to think of myself as a self-directed person.  That is, I provide my own incentives to act.  However, sometimes the self-incentive fails.  So it is with this blog.  Lately I have been waiting for the writing muse to kick in.   Today I got that kick in the pants to get back to the blog.
             While booting up for this morning’s ski, friend John said, “What’s going on.  I miss seeing new postings on your blog”.    To tell the truth, I sometimes wonder if anyone is reading my blog so I give myself an excuse to back off on postings.  Well at least a few folks check the posting every other day or so.   O.K. folks, here goes.
            Most of the geezer group at Greek Peak is now into mid-season mode.  Many of us are turned on to skiing regardless of the conditions.  Others wait for just the right snow, sunshine, and/or warmer weather.  Although it has been frigid for many days for the last few weeks, the snow base has been built up and we even have had a great powder snow fall.  So the incentive has been there to bring the geezer group to full force.  Even if the skiing isn’t so great on a given day, I find enough incentive in the geezer group coffee breaks to stir me up for the day.
            Another observation on incentive relates to a charity and skiing.  Most of us find good incentives to give to charity.   In the area of diseases and such, often a friend, loved one, and even we have suffered from a specific disease.  As a survivor we certainly feel encouraged to support the search for a cure.   So what is the tie to skiing?  This Saturday Greek Peak will host the Hope on the Slopes event to support the American Cancer Society.   Skiers with sponsors will complete as many runs as possible to up ante of amount contributed.  More power to them with safe skiing and  great fun as well.  So fellow geezer skiers everywhere I encourage you to support the American Cancer Society.  As a two time survivor it’s personal!
The Line Up for First Tracks

Getting to the Head of the Line

Blue Sky Morning - Time to Go


Monday, January 12, 2015

Feeling Young

     What does it take to feel young again?   Obviously if you are feeling physically, socially and mentally well there is the opportunity to feel younger than you really are.  On the ski slope, feeling young comes with a day when all the parts are working together and each run seems to be better than the other.  
   However, what psychs me up for feeling young in relation to a ski day comes with a satellite radio play of tunes of my youth from the 1940's and 1950's.  On my drive to the slopes, I revel in the sound of the big bands of the 40's.  A reminder of the days when we danced the in front of the big orchestras during Fall or Spring Weekends at Cornell.   And of course the mellow voice of Elvis Presley provides a magical rejuvenation relating to the rock and roll era.
    Although many decades have past since my youth,  music of my youth is a refreshment I continue to enjoy.   And the extra benefit is I either know the lyrics or they are clearly articulated by the singers!