Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A Non-Event

    A few days ago I read the professional magazine Resource which is the periodical organ of my professional society the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineering.   The entire issue was devoted to safety.   It was especially interesting to me because I have done work in safety of agricultural machinery; in particular agricultural tractors.  This issue presented a broad scope of standards and regulations for promulgating safety.   I was especially taken with an observation of what constitutes a non-event related to safety.   In short, the author described a farm transporting machinery down a road at dusk with all the appropriate flashing lights and warning signs in action encountering a van operator coming the other way.   They passed each other without incident.  Each went on their way safely.   The point is that standards and regulations create actions and devices that keep us safe from accident events and we should celebrate the many non-events that occur.
      So now that I have your attention, what does this have to do with skiing?   All this prompted me to doing some research on standards and regulations to promulgate safe skiing.   Remarkably, I discovered there are no federal regulation that apply to ski resort operation.   States have jurisdiction.   Therefore if you ski in several different states you will have to be aware of any special differences of that state.  As a skier where do you look for guidance on safety on the slopes?  I have found that the Snow Sports Safety Foundation provides some interesting insights.
      They have published a safety pyramid as shown below.

        Primary responsibility is with the participant.   The greatest onus is on the snow sports enthusiast to behave responsibly.  Next is personal equipment.  Binding checks and adjustment for instance.   Also helmets meeting a safety standard would be in this area.   Of course we also should expect resort operations and management that keeps us safe.   On that note as a geezer skier, my pet peeve is the hazard of snow making on an open slope.   My one most major injury was related to a snow making hazard.  Here is a quote from the Foundation about facilities management and operation that is relevant.

"The resorts appear to fear that any documented standards, safety plans or performance analysis could lead to a pubic expectation of accountability that would threaten continuing court enforcement  of the strong liability protections they enjoy. The resorts clearly value their liability protections over the safety of their patrons."
The base of the pyramid is public policy and so on.   There is really no public policy on safety, regulation is more or less state specific,  so that leaves case law as the base driving force for improvement in safety.  Unfortunately a skier or boarder who experiences an injury ostensibly due to a safety issue will have to sue to affect any change in safety standards.   

       Back to my opening on a non-event.   I was fortunate to ski for about 800 days of non-events before I had my most serious accident.   I would hope for more than that before my next crash.  For geezer skiers non-events are essential for our continued participation.   So advice to ourselves is minimize hazardous behavior,  wear a helmet and keep the gear in adjustment,   and be aware that the resort will protect their own interests ahead of our safety.  


Thursday, October 19, 2017

On Being Rich

     Yesterday my geezer skier buddies and I gathered for a preseason lunch at Greek Peak, hosted by our good friend Frank.  Our most senior member is ninety and the youngest has to be at least in his late sixties!   Lots of memories in that group.   After many decades of living a good life even in spite of troubles we are an optimistic bunch.    All of us are looking forward to the new season with the hope we can ski many days in good conditions and even some bad.
     During our lunch gathering there were many verbal exchanges catching up on activities over the summer and recollections of our past histories.   Frank is an active CEO of his own business that continues to grow and expand and clearly is our most financially endowed citizen of our group.   Others of us maintain active lives in other realms that include all types of volunteering and support of family endeavors.   All in  all we are all very rich in many different ways.
    Most of the time when people talk about being rich, the immediate thought is how much financial wealth has been attained.  However, to me being rich has so many other dimensions beyond the financial.   Being rich in good memories is a personal dimension for all of us.  As an example during our lunch I was prompted to recall growing up on the family farm in Wayne County, New York.  I probably in some ways bored my lunch companions with stories of a farm growing apples,  having a mint still for fragrant oil production and a dry house for producing dried apple slices for world wide distribution.   On the skiing side of course we all can swap stories of the good and the bad days on the slopes.   Just being out there is a stimulation of rich memory.   Andy and I had an unusual Hawaiian shirt day last year when we were iced covered by the time we finished our morning runs.
   Another source of richness is the community of friends sharing like pursuits, whether it be skiing, tennis, golfing or what not.  Each day we can be fantastically rich in gratitude for family, friends, and the opportunity to give back to the world.
    Finally, a thought about the status of wealth distribution in the United States today.   No other time in our history has financial wealth been so unevenly distributed over the population.   To me it is a tragedy that so many hard working people are desperate to have health care and sufficient food and shelter for their families while billionaires continue to accumulate obscene levels of wealth.   Where is the integrity to share that wealth with the rest of mankind?   Data shows the wealthiest are the least likely to be tithers in giving to share their wealth.      I applaud some of the wealthiest people who pledge to give away half of their means by the time of their death.  Even in those cases, they will be left with billions to pass on to their heirs.   As I point my fingers at others, I also know I point three fingers back at myself.   Along with my own memories, I hope that I can continue to live a life of generosity with the means I have accrued and will be remembered as a good and faithful steward of the earth and mankind.