Wednesday, October 2, 2019

What Kind of Body?

    I participate in a book study at our church that is a free wheeling discussion of our faith journeys.   The current book is Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis.   The author is a provocative thinker and sort of lay theologian.  However, that is not where I am going with this commentary.  I am prompted to do this blog based on remark arising out of a question about Christian belief of resurrection of the body.
Our pastors comment was, " If there is such a thing, what kind of body should I expect; one of a 17 year old?"   As I mused on that comment I couldn't help but relate it to my geezer skier friends commentaries about the nature of their demise.    Many will comment that they would prefer to go out of this world on the ski slope, enjoying a great run down the mountain or at least after a great day on  the slopes.   In the lore of our ski area there are stories of folks who did just that.
     Most of us in our senior years would prefer to pack it in while still active and somewhat hale and hearty rather than lingering on.   However, getting back to the potential for after life it is nice to think of some kind of restoration of a body or existence that would allow us to experience some of thrills and pleasures of our earthly life..  So I am not sure where I stand on this matter of the kind of body I would like to have.   For the moment, I am just concentrating on maintaining what I have.
      Recently  at our Geezer Skiers monthly lunch we had a physical therapist promote to us a 10 week conditioning program for the senior skier.   I guess that is a process for resurrecting the body.   Regardless of where we are on the spectrum of mobility or health, enjoying and being thankful for each day is plenty for me.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Advances In Battery Technology Influences the Geezer Life

    It is amazing how much battery technology has advanced in the last few years.  Rechargeable batteries have become a ubiquitous part of our lives.   Although this technology has had widespread impact on all lives regardless of age, I think the geezer population has benefited the most. 
    I know of one senior friend who actually runs on a battery powered heart.  He carries his battery satchel in a vest that he wears.  I guess he must recharge at night while he is sleeping.  Just like we recharge our physiological batteries.  He is indeed grateful.  Many other senior people who are on oxygen are blessed with battery powered oxygen generators that free them to move more easily in daily life.  In the continuing theme of support for seniors I must mention that those confined to wheel chairs now have better battery powered mobility.
     I really wasn't prompted to write this because of the above.  It was the new mobility my wife and I have attained with the purchase of E-Bikes.  We have been bike riders for many years but even though we are both quite fit for our age, pedaling up hills isn't much fun.  With our new bikes we are rediscovering how much pleasure it is to go for a recreational ride.  We have over twenty miles of range and can attain speeds up to 20 miles per hour.   We actually can ride with just battery drive, but since we have pedal assist with can  exercise at whatever level suit us.  His and hers bikes are shown below.

     Now I am thinking about what battery technology has to provide for skiing.  At one time I had battery powered boot heaters.  However the batteries didn't seem to last very long so I gave up on them.  Maybe it is time tor revisit this comfort device.  I know that battery powered warmers are available for ski gloves but so far the chemical warmers have been the best for me.  Meanwhile battery technology continues to improve even more so who know what is next.  
     Tomorrow is October 1st so maybe only 8 more weeks to skiing where I live.  So I guess I'll just look forward to some E-biking to enjoy the autumn colors and keep in shape.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Climbing Mountains

     I just finished reading a provocative new book by David Brooks entitled The Second Mountain:  The Quest for a Moral Life.  It seems to be partially autobiographical as he struggles with what it is to live a meaningful as well as moral life.   As he is a mid fifties man I suspect this book is partially inspired by a mid-life crisis at least partlly instigated by a failed marriage followed by remarriage.   As an octogenarian geezer skier my lens for assessing his writing is what it is like to go beyond the second mountain metaphor. 
    As related to skiing when we are climbing the first mountain of being successful in our careers and raising a family our ego reigns supreme.  Self absorption is a daily attitude.  If we are wise enough maybe we can put aside ego to the extent we can be present with our partner and children.  Too often however, we are neglectful of their needs and perhaps as well the greater needs of society.   Our passion for skiing is in tension with our other commitments.  We want to be climbing the metaphorical mountain and also want to be climbing the snow covered mountain.   In climbing the first mountain there is always tension between the free time used for pursuing our sport and the recognition that society asks more of us in family and community.   So in this first climb where do we find happiness and even more importantly joy? 
     I'll confess in my early days I was extremely goal oriented and obsessed with achieving success to lift myself out of economically deprived roots growing up on a farm.   I fed on increasing both my financial status and professional achievements.  But just as David Brooks points out, these achievements can leave an empty spot in your soul.   I am thankful that I did not fully sell my soul to the achievement god and did find solace in some level of service to humankind in my teaching, advising and worship.
      Setting off to climb the second mountain of focus on relationships, community and serving rather than feeding ego sometimes can be thrust upon you in unexpected ways.   Late in my 59th year I was struck with kidney cancer.   I was merrily moving along in my career and enjoying a responsible administrative post at Cornell University.   However, facing the possibility of a premature death, I was able to make a radical departure in my life to climb the second mountain.   My early  retirement shocked many of my colleagues!   However, I was delighted to move on to a more servant ordered life.   People would ask me "What are you gong to do?"   Eventually I put together a calling card with a list of my activities.   My life became filled with giving back to both my family and my church and my community.   I found myself happily and even joyfully doing mundane activities.   I was both able to serve and find great satisfaction in just being.   With the freedom from work, I was able to both give back and as well reward my passion for skiing. 
      Just as David Brooks points out, even though we have moral intentions and desires to be more relational, we are still flawed human beings.  I guess we continue to be works in progress so even though we may have made progress in climbing our second mountain, there is still work to be done.
     As I look forward to skiing in my 23rd year of retirement I am first of all blessed to have sufficient health to keep "climbing" the mountain.  Also I a pleased to still have the energy to do volunteer work with my church, local museum and with the Red Cross.   In the area of relationships, I am still working on being a better spouse, parent, grandparent and friend.   As our Greek Peak Geezer Skier group ages out I am thrilled that whether we are still on the slopes or not, we are in a committed fellowship of monthly lunches throughout the year.   I hope our little community is an example for others as we climb another mountain toward our final destiny.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Advances in Technology

    It is nice to have perspective on advances in technology.  If you have lived into geezer territory you have seen a lot of change.  Especially if you are an octogenarian.   Geezer skiers surely have benefited from the development of shaped skis along with just about everybody else on the slopes.   Many of us can also remember the days when bindings were quite primitive and leg fractures we commonplace.   Also from the point of view of safety, the development of comfortable safe and effective ski helmets is a boon.   We also must be grateful for the advances in snow making technology that enables snow making for efficiently even at higher temperatures. 
     Beyond skiing we are also blessed with a plethora of technological advances in computing, medicine, automotive safety and so on.   This post has been prompted by my use our newest toys!   My wife and I took delivery of e-bikes this past Tuesday.   It took some time to assemble them since they were shipped from the west coast.   Today we enjoyed a neighborhood ride as we adjusted to this new bike technology.   What a great joy it is to have power assist on the hills.   I have ridden a ten speed mountain bike in the past and when I was in my 60's I could downshift and pedal up the hills with reasonable speed.  Now in my 80's that is not as easy.   Thus my old mountain bike has been donated to charity along with my wife's beach bike.   We are both thrilled with our new machines and once again can enjoy rides without the agony of challenging hill climbs.
    I am truly pleased with the advances in battery and control technology that breathes new life into getting out the road with a bicycle.   And this activity can also be another mode of conditioning for the arrival of ski season.
 

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Flashback!

   Yesterday I had the pleasure of lunch with fellow Cornell Engineering Emeritus faculty at the Statler Hotel on the Cornell Campus.  The current dean Lance Collins is a gracious host who is very appreciative of the past and continuing contributions of this group.    It is truly a gathering of a gaggle of geezers.  Engineering of yore was male dominated and yesterday our group was graced by only one female emerita.   The rest of us are grizzled geezers. 
     Since I have a long history at Cornell that started with undergraduate studies in 1953 I have had a long acquaintance with the likes of the emeritus faculty.  I moved from student to graduate student to professor to associate dean during my active time so I can flashback to to a host of experiences when I encounter my colleagues.   The most remarkable flashback yesterday was an encounter with professor emeritus Arthur Ruoff.   Believe it or not I took a Differential Equations math course from him when he was a young assistant professor.   He was a hard charging character then and he maintains that character today.   He is and was a brilliant engineer.   Among his accomplishments was the development of high pressure compaction that has led to the production of artificial diamonds.
    As I looked around the room I noted that although many were showing physical signs of aging, they were still mentally sharp.    It was a delightful couple of hours with long time friends and associates and it was a pleasure to hear from the dean the progress of the many ventures of the college.   A most notable recent accomplishment is a collaboration with the Metropolitan Transient Authority of NYC to facilitate the L train tunnel rehab that without having to shut down the train for several months.
     Closing on the flashback note I am reminded of the thrills of past projects I was involved with.   And I am appreciative how Cornell support the geezer guys like me to still be involved with students and projects.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Is There A Gene for Skiing?

      Recently I read an article on on the influence of genes on a number of behaviors.   Genes can even influence which kind of foods you like.  Some of us like broccoli  but there are many who absolutely abhor this vegetable.  They have a gene that makes them sensitive to an element in broccoli that is particularly bitter to them.  Remarkably there is some evidence that genes can determine to some extent whether we lean to the left or the right politically.  Maybe that is the reason we often find it difficult to calmly discuss our political views.  Maybe we are hardwired to behave one way or another.  I am not totally convinced that this is true.  Thus we have the nature versus nurture debate.
     So as a geezer skier I am pondering if I am blessed with a unique set of genes that generates my passion for skiing?   Even as a poor child, I somehow acquired a pair of hickory skis with a simple strap so  I could glide down hill.   The only thing I could do was point them down the hill and hold on!  Eventually I took up skiing in my late twenties and more than five and a half decades later I am still at it.  Essentially all of my biological children have becomes skiers.   Some are extraordinarily committed to the sport.  The passion for skiing has also been passed down to most of the grandchildren.   Out of the nine biological grandchildren six are expert skiers.   The youngest of the nine is only three so it is yet to be determined if he will take up skiing.   For the moment his parents are only occasional skiers.   The jury is out whether the descendants  will become geezer skiers.  Time will tell. Obviously one could argue that the offspring were influenced by nurture and perhaps that is the dominant factor.
     Meanwhile I am waiting for the biologists to find the ski gene!  I would be happy to provide a DNA sample!

Monday, July 8, 2019

The Optimum A

    I read a New York Times article today touting the idea to strive for the good not the perfect.   It makes me think about my efforts to be a better skier.  Among our geezer skier group we often kick around ideas and suggestions to perfect our skiing.  One would think after all the years on the slopes we would give up on the idea of being perfect.   I guess not true.   Perhaps we need to back off on the idea of perfection,  forget about all those little adjustments of technique and enjoy being good at it.    That ought to be the goal.
     The article also reminded me of my graduate studies at Iowa State University in the 1960's.   Our group was always striving to be "perfect" in our studies.   That was the aim to ace every test and succeed at the highest level in all courses.  Ultimately we discovered we did not have the time or energy to ace everything.  The bottom line became getting the "Optimum A" in a course.   That was doing just enough to get an A grade and no more!  Except for one course I am happy to say it worked for me!

Monday, May 6, 2019

Cannon Fodder

I have been a long time fan of the game show Jeopardy.  The current champion's run while awesome in terms of success is disturbing.  His challengers are like cannon fodder to be mowed down by his radical strategy.  It is now no longer a contest on equal footing for all the participants.  As a long time participant in the New York State Senior Games I have had my share of ups and downs.  However, I never have felt like cannon fodder.  My opponents in my age category have similar credentials to mine and granted some are more skilled that others, it is a rare time that we have bageled scores for the losers.    If in the senior games we had retired pro tennis players in the mix, we would likely be crushed.  It would no longer be fun for anyone.  Both the winners and losers would be losers.   Of course no financial awards are involved.
     I guess we will see the current run will ever end before the show is ruined for me.  Somehow it feels like injustice.   Perhaps I have seen too much of good people being crushed by unusual circumstances.  Maybe this is evidence that I have gone soft on the reality in my geezerhood that bad things happen to good people.   I can always turn off the TV and ignore the show until sanity returns.
We shall see!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Another Sign Your Are a Geezer

       It is my birthday today.  I am well into geezerhood at 84 and enjoying the kind wishes from friends and family.   Of course there was a happy birthday from my membership in AARP too.
     As I reflected on my origins I was reminded of my birth story.  I was the second child born to my mother in her second marriage after being widowed at a an early age and then married to my father.  In the era of my birth in the mid 1930's home births were quite common.  Thus my mother gave birth to me in the rented farm house at the intersection of Preemption and Wayne Center Roads in Wayne County, New York.  The equivalent of a mid-wife was in attendance.  I was told it was Aunt Louise who must have been the sister of my grandmother Emma Tange.   
     Somehow my wife and I began conversing this morning about birth certificates.  I couldn't remember whether I had one in my possession. However as usual she went right to the appropriate file and showed me mine!  She was wondering what my birth weight might have been.  That information was not shown.  As one would expect the date of birth was shown along with the parent's names and my designated name.   However the date of the official registry was two years after I was born.  It wasn't until 1937 I was officially on the books.
      So what does this have to do with being another sign I am a geezer?   My guess is that almost all births in the United States post WWII  were hospital births.   So if I am trying to determine if someone is a geezer beyond observing them close up, I can ask them if they were born at home or in a hospital.  My guess is if they were born at home there is a high probability they qualify for geezerhood.
   

Friday, April 5, 2019

Routines and New Experiences

      During the ski season I have a great routine for my day.  For six days of the week I am up and about early enough to be at the ski slope by 9:00 AM for a 9:30 AM ride on the lift.  Unless there are purely horrible conditions I keep this schedule without fail.  Maybe in my geezerhood I am quite rigid about my schedule.   I also enjoy the routine of a morning coffee break with my fellow geezers followed by a few more runs often past noon or even until 1:00 PM.  I am subject to a certain amount of ribbing by my companions as I eat my daily apple fritter with my coffee.  Thank God I am not a diabetic as some of my contemporaries are.  The fritter routine is a year round habit!
       Many of my companions check out after coffee but several of us head out for additional exercise.  During the ski season beyond the joy of skiing the activity serves as appropriate exercise.  Post skiing volunteer work may be the next part of the day.  The gift of retirement is also an opportunity for an afternoon nap for recharging.
      Now that the season is over I am returning to a modified routine.  With an ailing back I have a year round exercise in the morning to iron out the kinks and get me into the day.  During the off season or non skiing days I spend up to an hour pedaling a recumbent stationary bike.  A good time to read the papers and catch up on e-mails.  The time goes by quickly and I hardly know I am working out.  The bike is nicely place in a glassed in sun-porch so I can watch neighbors walking by on the road as well as the birds flying about.   The rest of the day is taken up with a variety of activities and tasks.  I delight in solving each day at least two crossword puzzles.  My wife recognizes that I am probably a crossword puzzle solving addict.
       As a reader you may wonder why I have rambled on about my routines in this blog?   I am speculating whether other geezers are heavily locked into their routines?  I know some are fishermen, and others are avid golfers.  As an observer from afar I see many golfers who have specific regular days and tee times.   I know when my routine is disturbed I can find it troubling.  At other times I find a disturbance a welcome change of pace.  Bottom line.  Often oldsters can get real cranky if the routine is disturbed.  However, to stay young in spirit I hope that if my routine is disturbed I can still be flexible enough to adapt.  Meanwhile I will enjoy my routines and at the same time look forward to new experiences.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Transition

    Yesterday my local ski area closed for the season.  Pond skimming in the afternoon was entertaining as most participants took a cold bath and were fished out by the Ski Patrol!   At least on person made it all the way across the pond on telemark skis.  It was a lady in a fluorescent green onesie!  Some of the brave ones made two runs!  Not a geezer in the bunch of pond skimmers!
     I am now in transition mode for my daily activities.  After 90 days of skiing I am adjusting to a different schedule.  I certainly will have more time for writing this blog. I have been remiss in being creative in commenting on geezer activities both for skiing and other venues.
      The transition today was particularly hard since I awoke to at least four inches of fresh snow glistening at the moment in a warming sun.  What a tragedy the ski area is closed.  Of course it has to be a business decision.  Except for a few die hard skiers the ski area has little clientele.  Obviously they are operating at a loss in these waning days.  The main reason to stay open is to encourage more people to buy season passes.
       In my transition to the off season there are a number of chores to make it more palatable.   All the gear has to be cleaned and stored.  I'll put a preserving wax on the skis after I clean them.  Boots will be thoroughly dried and hung on the basement wall.   Since my trusty boot bag has seen better days,  I just ordered a new one on-line.    My wife has also been kind enough to special wash all my ski clothing.   Now is the time for me to get at my Honey-Do list that she has been so tolerantly delayed my completion. 
      In reflection on the 2018-19 season I note it was a season of highs relative to ski conditions and Bluebird days.   However it was a sad season relative to departure of several of my geezer friends from the slopes due to health issues.  Makes me appreciate what I can still do on the slopes and that each day is a gift.
Meanwhile as some of us geezers age out we are finding a few that are geezer skiers  in training.   It the new generation of geezers in their 60's and early 70's.   Good to know our legacy of geezer skiing will have a new generation.  Isn't that appropriate?  Yes, we all are in transition regardless of our age.
        Looking forward to a great summer on the tennis court with my wife Nancy and keeping fit for the 2019-20 ski season.  The season pass is purchased and waiting to be used.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Unsung Heroes - Lift Attendants

      As a geezer skier I find myself often most vulnerable on the ski slope when I am launched on the ski lift.  I can relate to many of my companions who have suffered disasters getting on the lift and getting injuries.   In some cases the injuries have required surgery of rehabilitation.    Therefore the quality of support by the lift attendants as they load the chairs is often a subject of conversation at our geezer coffee breaks.
      All the above said I must note that lift attendants for the most part are the unsung heroes of ski area operations.  There is not much glamour in time after time loading a chair or time after time observing skiers departing from the chairs safely at the top.  It can be a terribly boring job at minimum wage.  As skiers we often complain about the cold wind and the biting temperature.  Just imagine however,  spending hours in a stationary position loading the chair.
        So how are lift attendants unsung heroes.  At my home ski area of Greek Peak I have had years of observing the best of the best in this category of jobs.  Way back I can remember Harold who would load the T-Bar.  He made the loading an art.  This was true even when I was skiing with a 5 year old daughter with the T-Bar down near my ankles.  Over the years there have been many returning attendants  attending to us in a courteous and cheerful way.  Speaking of an art form of chair loading I observed one of the most graceful loaders at Gore Mountain several years ago.  He made the loading a ballet of swinging the chair just right so our launch was smooth and graceful.
         This year, the Tough Old Geezer Skiers of Greek  Peak are having our Annual Awards and End of The Year Luncheon next week.  Over the years we have given awards of appreciation to employees of the ski area who have served us well with excellent service, great grooming and comfortable launches on the lifts.  We are looking forward to acknowledging the cheerful and superb support of one of those lift attendants.   She knows most of the geezers by name and her bubbly personality makes us smile even more than having a great powder day.

Monday, February 25, 2019

The Seven Minute Interview

     During the week I am mostly skiing with my geezer pals and riding the lift with them.  We swap stories and entertain ourselves with various observations about the weather, the news, the ski conditions, new equipment, and so on. The approximately seven minute lift ride goes by a bit faster that way. 
      My weekend skiing gives me an opportunity to meet a variety of people as companions on the lift ride.  It can be an eclectic mix of characters and individuals.  Sometimes my seat mates can be totally silent and completely engaged with their own thoughts.   Because I enjoy hearing other peoples stories, I have adopted a plan to engage my companions with my own informal interview.   There are all kinds of opener comments or questions to get the ball rolling.   I try to gauge what to say by the age and gender of those with me.   Most of the time we have a grand conversation.  Often in the seven minute ride I can determine where they are from,  where they grew up, what they do for a living, if they are retired, and something about their ski experiences and their family.
          I think that as a geezer they consider me to be non threatening and they are likely to open up to me.  Likewise, I have reached a certain maturity that allows me to freely express my life experiences as a way of connecting to the humanity around me.  Finally, I am amazed at how much ground can be covered in a seven minute ride of the ski lift.  It's a tremendous benefit along with the downhill ride on the skis.

Friday, February 8, 2019

What Else?

   When the ski day is abbreviated by less than favorable conditions what else would you do?   Although our ski area was open and functioning after a night of heavy rain, there was not much to brag about for the snow that remained.  Fortunately some early morning grooming made things tolerable.   After a short morning of a relatively few runs and some coffee break conversation it time to go home and look at what else the day had to bring.
     With the extra time available, it was an opportunity to dispose of some paper accumulations in my study and then a long winter's nap.  Going out to dinner is also on the agenda since a kitchen renovation is in progress.  Over course this extra time sent me back to blog writing.
     Geezers can always find some way to amuse themselves beyond the slope.  Just downloaded a new ski tracker app on my smart phone.  Now is the time to learn more of its ins and outs.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Absurd Weather Changes

   Last week I skied in sub zero temperatures as a result of the polar vortex.  Great skiing with Bluebird days.   Most of my geezer friends were sitting it out at home.  However a few of us intrepid tough old geezer skiers had lots of fun.  Coffee breaks were especially appreciated.
    Today the temperature on the same ski slope was 56 F.   What an amazing change in just a few days.  It seems that adapting to the wild swings in winter temperatures is the new norm.  Time to fight global warming that is causing extremes in weather. 
     I had a conversation about what the future might look like with my friend Andy this morning as we rode the lift.  We were speculating on what the slopes will look like at the turn of this century.  That is the time my youngest grandson would be the same age as I am now.  I am dreaming that he will be enjoying the slopes then just as I am now.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Why Do Geezer Skiers Seem to Live a Longer and Better Life?

      I recently heard about a study of older folks that indicated better brain and physical health for those that kept moving.   Any sort of movement on a regular basis appeared to increase longevity and mitigation of the onset of dementia or other brain disorders from aging.  The study did not observe just physical activity but also did analysis of brain tissue from deceased volunteers in the study.  Even if plaque tissue had developed in the brain,  movement appeared to mitigate the deleterious effects.
     I thinks I can attest to the accuracy of the results as I observe my geezer skier companions. Two members are over ninety and a host of them are in their eighties.   All of them are movers.   If they are not on the ski slope they will be in the gym, on the tennis court, playing golf, fishing or hiking and walking.  Although one of our group has developed dementia, he is the exception.   I guess we are not all immune to degenerative losses. 
      Eventually geezers will have to give up skiing.  However, we will attempt to delay that day as much as possible.   I belong to the 70?+ Ski Club and in my most recent newsletter a 100+ skier was featured.   Amazing not only physically but also mentally sharp and witty.
      Maybe overall the geezer skiers may not live longer than others but we sure have enjoy our activity.  As I write this, a significant snow fall is expected over night.   Looking forward to great week ahead on the slopes.  However,  I will have to share more of the "freshies" with holiday weekend folks.