Saturday, December 26, 2020

Sounds of Winter

     I woke up this morning to the sound of the snow plow traveling through our neighborhood.   A definitive sound of both the diesel engine and the scrape of the plow blade over the macadam.   It was too early to get up but I was a bit wakeful so my mind wandered off into thoughts of winter sounds.  Here I was in my cozy nest of covers where I began to think of my winter childhoods on the farm.

    The vivid winter sounds I especially remember from my childhood 75 or so years ago arise from sleeping in an unheated bedroom.   Our farmhouse was uninsulated with no storm windows.   The only heat was a kitchen stove and and pot-bellied stove in the living room.  Needless to say, overnight the temperatures in my bedroom mostly matched the outdoor temperature.  On those bitterly cold winter nights I would lie in bed with as many covers as possible, listening the sounds of a storm beating against the clapboards.   The wind would moan and howl!   Loose windows and clapboards would rattle.   I can feel the cold, loneliness and despair even now as I think of the challenge of surviving those discomforts.     Eventually I wold drift off into sleep shutting out the storm sounds.    Then there was the wake up call for my winter morning.   My mother didn't have to shout up the stairs for me to get up!   However, there was a signal that alerted me to rise.  It was the clank of the metal lids on the wood stove in the kitchen.  When I heard several clanks, I knew my mother had started the fire in the stove.   Soon the kitchen would be warm!  After an appropriate interval of time, I would grab my clothes and dash down the stairs to start the day.

    Beyond my childhood memories I've continued  thinking of contemporary winter noises.   There are the noises of both my and my neighbor's snowblowers.  There is the noise of the scraping shovel as another neighbor clears a sidewalk.    And now I can rest in my cozy house and still be in comfort as the wind of the latest snow storm beats on us.   (Just now as I write this blog, our plow people are making another noisy run).

    Now my thoughts turn to the sounds of the ski slopes.   For Eastern skiers, there is the annoying sound of the snowmakers for many days of the season.  Depending on the type of snow maker there are variety of raucous roars to gentle swishes.  I surely like the gentle swishes!  The din of some snowmakers can be overwhelming.  When the snowmakers are shut down there can be blissful near silence on the slopes, especially when we have had a powder snowfall.  Other times we deal with the scrape, scrape, scrape over the hard pack or ice.    Of course each lift has it's characteristic running machinery sound.  On the ride up the mountain the pulleys and cable have both squeaks and hums.     I could go on, but here is the challenge.  Try listening for uniques sounds of winter.   It entertains me!

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Back Off

     A beautiful crisp winter morning!  Sun glinting off the snow with sparkles of light.  Should be a great day to go skiing!  I hadn't planned on it though.  Thinking that the weekend day of Saturday would likely be a busy day at Greek Peak I had tentatively decided to stay home and hit the exercise bike.  Skiing during the Covid-19 pandemic has become a challenge.  Too many people in any space is a danger to old guys like me.   Even rides on the quad chair with one other than a close friend can be treacherous.  Yesterday a dude asked to join me.  Once on the chair he lowers his mask!  Hey man, that's not cool.   I didn't say anything but turned my back and hoped than I wouldn't be downwind of him.   Back to today's situation.   

    After showering I took another look outdoors.  The sun was fantastic and the snow continued to beckon me to the slope.  I told my wife Nancy I had a change of heart.  I'm heading for the slopes to get in a few runs.  In fifteen minutes or so I called for an update on the conditions, geared up, and headed out.  On the way I enjoyed listening to my latest audio book and dreamed about the first run.

    Then I arrived at the slope.  Wow!   A ton of cars in the parking lot.   A mega line waiting to get tickets.   And a quick glance to the area around the two lifts showed what kind of a day it could be.  There were mega crowds dispersed in the run up to the lifts.   Ringing in my head was the thought, Back Off old man!   Rethink your day because you really don't want to go through the frustrations of navigating the crowds and the waits and the potential exposure to Covid.   I made a rolling exit from the parking lot and headed home.   I plan to live for another day such as the normal weekdays at the slopes where the early morning geezers have our own little playground.

    Surprised my wife that I had returned.   She applauded me for being circumspect.   Ah well.   Today's exercise became some snow blowing and shoveling and nearly an hour on my recumbent exercise bike.   Didn't have to back off of those activities.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Appreciation For Skilled Trades Workers

     Yesterday saw the completion of a wall board repair project in this study where I am writing this post.  After a completely botched job by a previous tradesperson, our new worker did an amazing job.  In just a few hours over two days we have a very satisfactory outcome.   All this has reminded me to appreciate skilled persons in the various trades.  Be it electricians, plumbers, masons, metalworkers, or various kinds of mechanicians.    I know from experience that I am what is called "a jack of all trades but a master of none".   I'm an engineer and although I probably have a deeper understanding of structures and machines than the trades people, I certainly cannot execute the designs as well as they can.  In summary I really appreciate the work of skilled people.   By the way our most recent experience underscored that diversity in the work force is a boon.   Traditionally big burly dudes often are the vision of people in the trades.  However in our recent project we had a slightly built woman that worked wonders!  Liberation!  I especially appreciate the removal of stereotypes since we have two daughters who are engineers.  Both were pioneers in breaking the stereotypic barriers to success as civil and electrical engineers.

    I had a long active career as an engineering professor and certainly value higher level education.   However a college education is not the path for everyone.   As a society and a country we desperately need qualified and skilled doers!   People who can fix and build things!   During this coming ski season, I surely will be calling on the ski mechanics to sharpen and tune my skis!

Wednesday, November 11, 2020


      Time to be sure the skis are ready for the new season.  It got me to thinking about waxing of skis as lubrication to makes things go more smoothly.   I began to think about this as a metaphor for for the functioning of our nation and our society.   What is the equivalent of wax in our society to make things move smoothly?  Unfortunately over the past four years we have seen what does not work.

    Thus I would like to focus on what I think does lubricate our society.    If we respect each other we will be on the right path.   Respect means we honor each person as worthy regardless of economic, social or racial identity.   We will avoid name calling.   We will seek to be empathetic.   We will support leadership that embraces values that enhances cooperation rather than combativeness.   We will foster character that we would want our children to emulate.   We will examine ourselves and seek to remove the lesser angels from our being.   

    I know that what I say next may offend some of my followers and friends but I need to speak my truth.   When truth is subjugated everyone suffers.   Our United States of America has been so assailed by lies that we have become immune to their effect.   This must change.  The very soul of our nation is at stake.   My hope is that there will be an age of enlightenment in the future.  May the grit of lies be replaced by love, respect and truth. I hope to live to see that day. 

Saturday, October 31, 2020

On Being Unaware

     We have lived in our present home for 12 years blithely assuming all was well with our water supply.   When we moved in I noticed there was a water softening system that was not in use.  It looked like it hadn't been used in years.  I assumed that the previous owners deemed it redundant for our municipal water supply.   Not so!

    While visiting our daughter several weeks ago, my wife noticed how much nicer her hair felt after washing in their water, which is soft water.   From that experience we became aware that maybe we had something wrong with the hardness of our water.   Why hadn't we thought of that before?  It is part of being unaware when something is obvious but we are seeing but not seeing.  For instance our coffee pots have routinely plugged up and required frequently cleaning.   The shower heads often have to be changed.  All these clues went flying by us.  

    The upshot of this awakening is a new water softening system.  Wow! What a change!  Every item that is using water has performed better from showers, to coffee making  to clothes washing.  

    There is more to this story.   We have a humidifier attached to our forced air furnace.  This was a new furnace installed in February of 2014.   For the past 6 plus years I have been oblivious to the need to replace the water pad (filter).     You can guess what the pad looked like after 6 years accumulation of hard water deposits.   What a mess!    Another awakening.   It took me several hours to remove the deposits from the frame holding the pad.   On top of that the drain tube was completely clogged with debris.   After a long soak in hot water and a little probing with a wired it was ready to be reinstalled.   Happily a new pad and fully functioning humidifier is in place.   I expect that with the new softener in place the replacement of the pad will be probably be on a season by season schedule.   To be sure of the maintenance I have entered a reminder into my Google Home smart speaker for a replacement at an appropriate time.    Isn't it amazing that things out of sight can be out of mind?  However even things in our sight on a daily basis may not register. 

    To be aware we need to be shaken up from time to time.  In our relationships things can be hidden too.   I am asking myself what calcifications are accumulating in my routine of daily life.?  Are there changes I could make to be more loving and caring both at home and in my social and societal activities?    In this time of political and pandemic chaos it behooves us all to look beneath the surface to see what need to be cleaned out and changed.  

    Finally a comment about the coming ski season.    On being unaware, I visited my home ski area of Greek Peak yesterday hoping to pick up my pre-paid season pass.  As we all know things on the ski slope will be different this year.    To my surprise the passes will not be available until the end of November.   Apparently with all the adjustments to comply with pandemic regulations, they have fallen behind on the routine activities.  Things will be different.   Sadly I do not see the usual coffee hours for our geezer group this year.   Probably locker room boot ups will be eliminated and we will be putting on our gear at our cars.  However, we should be able to social distance on the slopes.   We have spent years unaware of how fortunate we have been to have the freedom of social interaction in the pursuit of the sport we love.  I live with the hope that this crisis will pass and we will not necessarily return to a new normal, but will be  more aware  overall how fortunate we are with what we do have. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Rainy Days

     I have a love hate relationship with rainy days.   Right now at my home we are experiencing a nice rainstorm. During August and September we have had a drought and the lawn has suffered.   I welcome this precipitation that will revive my lawn and reduce my need to water the two apple trees I planted.

    When I was growing up on the farm, I often looked forward to a rainy day during the planting and growing seasons.  A rainy day was respite from the draining labors of farming!  As a young lad I welcomed the relief from both the heat and the tedium of our tasks.   I especially remember how glad I was to have rain when we were transplanting cabbage on a 90 degree day with the wind blowing dust in our faces.

    Having a rainy day wasn't always a relief from work on the farm.  A frequent task on the rainy day was to clean the barn.   I am not sure that this was entirely necessary or was it was another way for my father to keep me occupied.  It was a dusty, dirty job that I hated almost as much and field work.  Sometimes a more pleasant job was in store like maintaining or repairing machinery.   Best of all a trip to town was a treat that we all enjoyed.  Dad would have a beer and I would get a soda!

    Fast forward to the present time of my life and I think about the hate I have for rainy days during the ski seasons.  Over the last 20 years my records show a significant increase of rainy days  and definitely so in the last five years.   Climate change is taking its toll on the quality of our seasons, especially in the Northeast!  Even with rainproof gear, a day on the slopes with rain covering the goggles and running down your neck is not the greatest!  

    May it be so that our rain comes when we need it and holds off for the outdoor activities we enjoy both in winter in summer.

Thursday, September 24, 2020


     I am a regular reader of the The Writer's Almanac by Garrison Keillor.  A few days ago I learned about Euripides.   His philosophy is summed up in part as follows.  "Tragedy isn't getting something or failing to get it, but it's losing something you already have."   This revelation resonated with me in many ways.  

    In the physical realm I am no longer in the mode of achieving great success in my piano playing or clarinet playing or becoming a competent tree skier,  or even raising my tennis to another level.  I accept that these are not tragedies, but I do see a tragedy down the road when I will likely reach a time when I will be unable to ski with the confidence I once had.   I don't want to play down the incentive to try new things in life, but I am truly ready to accept my limitations and attempt to hold onto things that are dear to me.

    In the larger world of the state of our United State of America I am deeply troubled by what we seem to be losing in our society.   We tragically have lost the sense of mutual care and respect.   Our nation has been taken down the path of divisiveness by our leadership.  Respectful norms of behavior have been trashed.   Leadership has chosen name calling and denigration over grace and charity.   Democracy as we have known it is perilously in danger of being destroyed.  If Euripides was around he would say, "You fools, why have you allowed this to happen?"   Meanwhile I struggle to maintain hope for a new day where the tragic sacrifice of 200,000 lives to incompetence and cruelty will be replaced by compassion and care.   Contrary to what Euripides said, unless we do get democracy restored in our nation it will be an enormous tragedy.

Monday, September 7, 2020

The View From My Exercise Bike

       I have a recumbent exercise bike in my sun room situated so I can see the nearby neighborhood street.  A great view through several windows.  Each day I spend an hour or so spinning with relatively light resistance.  During the exercise I typically read the Syracuse Post-Standard and The New York Times.   The reading is a diversion.   During the hour  I enjoy as well watching what it happening in the street.   We live in a quiet neighborhood with no through streets so the the auto traffic is minimal.   Therefore the streets are hospitable to pedestrians, bicyclers, and runners.   

    Each day I noice the regulars.  There is the usual couple leisurely walking in side by side.   Another is regular is the lady with the large brown dog on a leash always pulling to the length of the leash.  He  sniffs at my grass and of course occasionally makes a deposit.  We have good neighbors who do pick up after their dogs.

    Other than regulars are the visiting families with their strollers and perhaps another child or two.  They tend to be dawdlers taking in likely unfamiliar sights.  Recently I have watched a young male runner whipping by at a good pace.  We have waved recently when I have been out on my e-bike.    We do have a number of young bicyclers and scooter riders.   They remind me of the days when I was a young bicycler with my new Schwin bike obtained shortly after the end of WWII.  In today's world I worry about the youngsters that go by without helmets!  I groan and moan to my wife about this and also wonder why their parents are not concerned.  Ah well, the life of the curmudgeon geezer.

    I conclude if you open your eyes, you can always find ways to amuse yourself and engage the world.   Life is good!

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Is Cash Obselete?

    I recently read an article about the scarcity of coins in circulation.  Apparently during the pandemic people are not shopping as much with cash.   In recent years my payment process for shopping has been almost strictly credit cards.     It has been at least 10 or months since I have used cash.   I carry no coins and when I have no alternative but to use cash, the coins I get in change go directly to my wife.  She stills like to operate in the cash world.

    Along with the aversion to cash I am on a kick to avoid writing checks!   I love the process of setting up monthly bills for either credit cards or electronic bank transfers.  I can't remember the last time I ordered new checks.  The check providing company thinks I have fallen off the earth,

    Are the changes progress?   I certainly think so.  During my first international travel in the 70's  the standard payment process revolved around travelers' checks.   At the airport of the country of arrival one would go to a currency conversion kiosk and convert an appropriate amount of US Dollars to the local currency.    Before the European Union and the advent of the Euro that meant each country had their own currency.   Speaking of coins, I still have some Spanish, German, Dutch and Belgium coins of minor value.   What a blessing it was for later travel to simply pay with credit cards.

    Often geezers are heard to complain how things were great in the good old days.   I am not one of them.  I am delighted to have lived long enough to see progress on so many fronts.  And speaking of progress on many fronts I am reminded how many splendid improvements have been made in ski clothing and ski gear.   I am happy to see T-bars go obsolete.  Maybe in the shopping society the best thing could be for cash to become obsolete.


Saturday, August 22, 2020


     As a crossword puzzle solver I am both puzzled (pun intended)  and amazed by the plethora of word meanings even for common every day vernacular.    The word woke has come at me recently.  In conversation with a friend about our mutual concern over a social injustice, she exclaimed that I was a woke person.   Yes, one aware of social injustice.   I guess it is nice to have a word that sums up a lot meaning in one simple stroke.

    All this got me to thinking about how we interact in a multiple of professional, family, and social situations with a vernacular that we may or may not understand.   Communication if often stymied if the people do not have the same vocabulary or the same vernacular (dialect).     I am reminded of an experience over 50 years ago when I travelled with a Cornell engineering consultant  for  the poultry industry in New York State.  Hollis Davis was a bit of a character.  A rough and ready guy who broached no nonsense.  On our journey he was consulting with a poultry farmer who was planning new housing for his birds.   When we met, Hollis went about explaining how the structure should be built and the type of beams and trusses to be used in various locations in the structure.  The structural elements actually went by different names depending on the part of the state we were in.  As I observed their exchanges, I noticed that Hollis would check with the farmer every few sentences to see if he was comprehending his recommendations.  When the communications broke down,  Hollis would refer to the particular structural element with a different name.   One time I think he went through at least three names until the farmer understood what he was talking about.   For a neophyte like me,  it was a lesson in effective communication.

    Perhaps the moral of this screed is that we need to recognize who we are communicating with and use the correct vernacular for the situation.   When in conversation about skiing with people outside the skier fanatics,  I notice I will use terms that have little meaning to them.  Then it is time to check in and rephrase with interpretation of the vernacular  I have fallen into.  No wonder folks who learn English as a second language have trouble with our idioms and dialects.   Meanwhile I will continue to enjoy learning new words and new vernacular.   It is part of my entertainment during my pandemic isolation.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Chaos and Clutter

     My wife and I are orderly people and minimalists.    We abhor clutter and by many standards we have a sparsely decorated home.  It is our choice and if others wish to live differently, we say enjoy you life style.     As a senior couple we have developed routines and live with very little chaos and clutter.

     We are often blessed with several day visits by our daughter, son-in-law and now two grandsons.   You can imagine how this changes our environment.   Our routines are thrown into disarray.  Changing from a household of two seniors to a multi-generational household of six presents a whole new definition of order.   Don't get me wrong.  The clutter that comes is a joyful clutter of an active 4 year old playing with a multitude of toys that Nana has accumulated.   And the new infant grandson is a delightful distraction as he gurgles in delight at the play items in his view as he lays on the living room floor.  All the clutter for the visit I would classify as good clutter.   The kind that has purpose and entertainment.

    Post the most recent visit our household has bounced back to our old routine.  By gosh, I sure do miss the chaos of the latest visit.  Now we have to entertain ourselves with other activities and savor memories of the good times with family.

    My thoughts about chaos and clutter other than the above have as well been sparked by travels in the countryside of Cortland County, New York scoping out derelict silos of defunct dairy farms.   Sometimes I come across boneyards of inoperative machinery cluttering the surroundings of the farm.   My sense of orderliness is offended by some of these eyesores.   If I was couple of decades younger, I think I would start up a scrap metal business and harvest these boneyards.  On the other hand, I do see some operational dairy farms with machinery parked around the buildings in somewhat disarray.   Since they are being used, I would classify them as good clutter.    Perhaps, I just don't understand a mind set that is willing to live with what to me is an excess of things and a chaotic environment.  

    To each his own.  In my professional life, I have encountered colleagues who had both totally chaotic offices and totally pristine offices.   In both cases they were exceptionally productive.  Each of us knows what works for us.


Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Each Day Has a New Surprise

    As I reflect on the passing of the days during the pandemic I am glad that I have maintained a positive outlook.  In the new normal, the old patterns are disrupted and I have had to adapt to new activities and expectations.  As has been true for all of us.

    I have decided not to plan too far ahead.  Thus I arise each day simply looking forward to being surprised by something unusual happening in my life, however small it might be.  And so far each day has lived up to that expectation.  In this new mode tiny differences in my routine take on special significance.   Often my day will include an unexpected need for a change or repair in the household.  (Or just now a surprise kiss from my loving wife as I sit at the computer typing.  Those are the best kind, )   A recent example of household change is adding a repeater to my Wi-Fi to extend coverage to a far corner of the house where I might use my Ipad to watch a movie.   Today as I used the central vacuum, I was reminded that I hadn't  emptied the barrel or changed the filter in a long time.   I just finished the nasty job and ordered a new foam filter on line.  Good for another few months. 

    My wife, Nancy is a marvelous cook.  I am so fortunate that each evening meal is both delicious and often surprising in flavors and presentation.  I am a total omnivore and I think the only thing I detest is sardines.   Another surprise for the day can be the sights we see on hikes within our region.  We have an amazing number of  rarely frequented trails in the area where we discover marvelous greenery, forests and vistas.  

   In summary,  I am happy to go with flow.    New things will happen and old things will crop up.   And almost daily, my wife and I are delighted with photos of our most recent grandchild, grandson Finnian.   A most delightful, adorable and handsome dude heading for age three months

  My friends and readers, I hope you can find a new, entertaining and rewarding surprise in each of your days.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Dreams of Old Men?

   I have lived over 85 years and accumulated a lot of memories.   Many of them come forth during my waking hours and sometimes I like to relate them to anyone who is close by.  Especially if it relates to an ongoing conversation.  My wife is often the recipient of my musings and often suggests I heard that one before.
    In the wee hours this morning a memory intruded into my sleep in the form of a dream.   In summary I dreamt of interviewing for a job with Deere and Company for an engineering job.   Hey, I am long retired and in reality I have no interest in going to work again.  Also I had a long stint as an academic doing teaching and research in agricultural engineering.  Not an industrial person.
    Here is my interpretation of the dream.   It relates to an experience that dates back to 1956.   The summer before my senior year at Cornell I was looking for a summer job in the agricultural equipment industry.  There were two leads on jobs.  One with Avco-New Idea in Ohio via a Cornell alum and the the other with Deere  and Company in Moline, Illinois.     I interviewed for both jobs and was immediately offered a position with the first.  Deere was late in getting back to me with an offer so in I decided to go ahead and grab the first opportunity.   However, shortly after accepting the first offer, Deere came through with a much better offer.  What a dilemma!   Being honorable won out and I declined the Deere offer.   (Here is another irony in this story.   My son Colin during his time at Cornell University spent two summers working for Deere in Moline, Illinois!  And if the equipment business has not gone in the tank in the 1980's he would likely have spent a career there.   More irony.  He has ended a 30 year career with IBM with early retirement. )
         Now returning to the dream story.   The experience at Avco-New Idea was less than satisfactory.   The upshot is that I left behind any thoughts of going into industry and so pursued academia.  Perhaps the dream today is returning to a this question.  What if I had taken the Deere job?  Would I have been a career engineer designing agricultural machinery?  Would it have been satisfying?    I guess dreams do arise from unresolved understanding of twists of fate.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Iron Men (And Women)

      I just received my Summer 2020 70+ Ski Club Newsletter.  The front page featured comments about 90 and over skiers with special recognition to ones just turning 90.  The oldest of the group is 103 and still hitting the slopes.  We should label them Iron Men.   They just keep on going and going.  True, there are ladies over 90 skiing as well and I  admire them too.  Would it be an insult to call them Energizer Bunnies?   Perhaps so, since snow bunny has sometimes been a derogatory  appellation.    From what I read of these gentlemen and ladies, many are still ripping up the expert trails rather than seeking the greens.
    The inside story entitled In Memoriam is a bit sobering.  The deceased group ranges in age from 84 to 100.  They all had wonderful years dedicated to skiing after retirement as well as before retirement.    Fortunately almost all avoided a prolonged decline in health and expired as peacefully as possible in the companionship of spouses and/or family.   However, what a tragedy the 100 year old succumbed to the Covid-19 virus.  Damn! 
     So here we are geezer skiers, looking forward to another season on the ski slopes with the hope the pandemic will not take it's toll of the senior skiers.   The 70+ Ski Club has a number of excursions planned starting in January 2021.   Will it be safe to engage in group activities?   I am inclined to think it will be safe to be outdoors and use the lifts while using masks.   However, I wonder if it will be safe to gather in the lodge to boot up and have a coffee break?    I have a few months shy of five years to survive and ski at 90.   At this time our Tough Old Geezer Skiers group at Greek Peak has no active 90 plus skiers.    With the power of positive thinking I trust that this will not last. 
     On this 94 degree day in late July, thinking snow gives me hope and energy.   Stay well everyone.   Keep up following the best scientifically recommended practices to protect your health.   The world will be better with more Iron Men and Women out there!

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Acceptable Risk

     I think life is dominated by making decisions about acceptable risks.  And as a society our government, economists, engineers, physicians and on and on are all engaged in managing risks that they deem acceptable.   We have an opportunity at the individual level to make our own assessment of an activity's risk and act accordingly.  However, at the greater society level, risk management can be beyond our control.
   Here is an example of my thinking about acceptable risk in this pandemic.    This thinking  was triggered today by a New York Times article  about a 80 year old man and his 74 year old wife struggling with whether  it would be safe to gather the family at Lake Placid, New York for an 80th birthday party.   They would have to travel from Maryland and some of the family would have to fly to the event.    The elders are vulnerable folks and would likely suffer mightily from a Corona virus infection.  After struggling with this dilemma they finally concluded it wasn't worth the risk.    Note that their decision included both their personal risk assessment and the environmental risk factors that are controlled by the society around them.  It is a challenge to navigate a society where the high level of risk acceptable many of the population has drastic consequences for others that are trying to mitigate their vulnerability.   
     I am not averse to taking risks.  However, I like to think I make a careful assessment of the rewards of that risk as well work hard to engage any safeguards that will reduce my risk.   As a geezer skier, I wear my helmet, assess the difficulty of the slope and conditions and tamp down my more adventurous nature when it seems appropriate.    Applying that approach to dealing with a potentially deadly virus,  I have decided to practice maximum social distancing, mask wearing, hand washing and only hobnobbing with  groups a few minutes at a time.   I hope that I will have the patience minimize my risk until a vaccine is available.
     In conclusion we all have the freedom to make our individual decisions about acceptable risk.  However, we are at the mercy of risks generated by leaders and society.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Beneath The Surface

    Saturday my son Colin made a visit and he advised me to get the App Strava to  record my bike rides.   He is an avid bike rider during the off season from skiing.   We both enjoy biking and skiing and clearly bond over those activities. 
    Since Saturday I have taken a couple of recorded bike rides using the App.  The App gets my results via e-mail and responds with a comment on the ride.  Here is today's comment.

"Amazing rideGerald Rehkugler. You just took the top spot on the leaderboard on Congdon Ln Climb by 26s. Take a closer look on Strava or share your achievement on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter."

    What an ego boosting comment!   However, let's look beneath the surface.   The App is really for bikers without power assist.   My e-bike gives me a big advantage for.the climb described in the comment.  My ethical framework precludes me from taking advantage of this anomaly so forget it about positing anything.
    All this reminds me that whenever we hear or observed something, it is a good thing to look beneath the surface to find what we might be missing.   Not doing so can lead us to wrong conclusions and dangerous actions.    One for instance comes to mind regarding skiing.  I frequently watch the Weather Channel and was blown away by a piece showing a trio of skiers caught in an avalanche.   They were off trail skiing and reached what looked like a beautiful run on fresh snow.   Everything seemed all right as the entered the run.  However a short distance into the run the top several feet of snow fractured from the mountainside and a roaring avalanche engulfed them.  Two of them managed to stay on top of the flow, while the third was quickly buried.   The third survived when dug out and air lifted to a hospital for recovery.   Only the quick thinking search of the two other skiers enabled  uncovering their companion.   They were unaware that there was a fragile layer under the new fallen snow.
     Beyond the physical illustration above, I dare venture into a comment about our current  political and pandemic chaos.   We are bombarded by news, comments, opinions and sometimes so-called facts.  Without taking any sides, I will only comment that when we hear read or see something, one would be wise to look beneath the surface to find true meaning.   The old adage to "check and verify" seems appropriate.
    Stay safe and healthy !

Monday, July 20, 2020


  The other morning as I slipped my smart phone into my pajama bottoms pocket, it occurred to me that pockets in pajamas seemed unnecessary.  Who is going to put something in their pajama pockets to sleep with?   But I guess clothing manufacturers understood we still wear our pajamas when we are vertical and sometimes want to carry something around for a while.  For me they are useful to carry my phone until I have finished my morning exercise routing.
    The above piqued my curiosity about pockets.   A little research showed there are over 40 idioms regarding pockets.   My long gone dad had one that I am still trying to figure out.  "It fits like a pocket on a shirt".     He would bring this up when we were particularly successful in putting something together on the farm.  If a repair went well or another task went off real I would hear that.   In the list of idioms I found on line the only one that seemed to be close to his was, "handy as a pocket on a shirt".   That idiom apparently came from the South.
      Pockets clearly are handy!   As a skier, when I am purchasing a new coat or pants, I pay serious attention to the structure and location of the pockets.   In these days of smart phones you want an external pocket that is easily accessed when necessary.   Pockets for snacks,  extra gloves and wallet storage are also essential.   However, as I reflect on the use of pockets of my present gear, I surely have more pockets than necessary.   Probably the manufacturers provide redundancy for the wide range of preferences of the public.
      There is no doubt that the right pockets in type and location makes tasks much easier.  I still use bib overalls for handy man projects.  Very useful gear for carrying a folding rule, hammer, pencil, etc.   I notice that trades people each have their special pockets specific their calling.    Beyond skiing other recreational pursuits have specially pocketed gear.   I have never been a fly fisherman but I do admire the unique set of pockets adorning the fisherman's vest.    I have not been in the military, but from afar I am intrigued by the apparent multiplicity of special pockets in a combat uniform.   
     One last observation.   I occasionally wear a pair of cargo shorts.   They have a multitude of pockets up and down each leg.    Even before I recently lost some weight, each time I wore them, if I loaded the pockets I had a hard time keeping them up.   Maybe the answer is suspenders?   Is suspenders the next topic?   Probably not!  I think the back pack will be the better solution for carrying cargo.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020


    My wife and I are planning  a short hike/walk tomorrow on the Virgil Mountain Loop Trail in the Kennedy State Forest of New York.  In view of some recent fiascos of trouble finding the parking and trail heads for some of our past hikes,  I thought a bit of recon would be in order for today.
    In preparation I  looked at maps of the area and read information from    Since the area is within e-biking distance I set off on my adventure early afternoon with a fully charged battery on my bike.  It was a beautiful day and the ride to the trailhead was exceptionally scenic.   Lush fields of green and great vistas of the hills of central New York.  God's great gift of nature to warm a person's soul.
    My directions were spot on for finding the trailhead and the location of the car parking area nearby.  The cool shade of the trees made the ride to the trailhead on a gravel road a welcome relief from the sun.  Mission accomplished for tomorrow's adventure.
    The Kennedy State Forest consists of more than 4400 acres to explore.   Not wanting to retrace my roads to the area, I decided to explore an alternative route that would take me through the Forest.  As I headed East on VanDonsel Road there was a significant change in the road from gravel to more primitive shale rock and rutted dirt.  I was thankful for my fat tire e-bike with front suspension that handled the rough terrain and ruts with ease.    As I passed through the forest I enjoyed the greenery and variations in tree types from saplings to more old growth trees.   After several miles traveling East, I expected to encounter a road to the North to start my return home.   The road I expected to find just didn't appear or maybe I missed it because it was more primitive than I imagined.  Finally I did encounter a road that I expected to return me to the main route 392.  Nope!  It was a dead end.   Continuing on East eventually I came to a paved road that took me to an intersection that I failed to recognize.  Fortunately across the intersection with Valentine Hill Road a kind gentleman gave me directions to get to Virgil via Rte. 392 and thus home. 
    My afternoon recon adventure took me many miles further than I expected to travel.   My e-bike has a 745 Watt battery but since I am a geezer I don't pedal as much as I used to.  Needless to say, during my trip home I began to have battery life anxiety.  I was still several miles from home when the battery was down to two and then one bar of charge.   Eventually about three miles from home the one bar began flashing to signal soon to be a dead battery.   With some astute pedaling  I managed to arrive home with about 100 watts of power remaining.   That is a little bit of assist, but not much for the hills.  Twenty nine miles travelled in a lot of hilly terrain. 
   Great adventure!  We'll see what the hike brings tomorrow.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Disruptions and Diversions

    This current pandemic surely has been disruptive.   My routine has been so disrupted that I have neglected to make some observations on this blog.  Thankfully, Tim as one of my followers,  has jolted me out of my malaise.
     As a geezer I have been especially careful about social distancing and staying sterile if at all possible in this chaotic time.   Although I am mostly in good health, I do have some underlying conditions that would really complicate my recovery from a Covid-19 infection.   I have vivid memories of my 22 year old self fighting the flue infection that I suffered in the 1957-58 pandemic that killed an estimated 116,000 Americans and perhaps over a million world wide.   I was a graduate student at Cornell University in the Fall of 1957 when one afternoon during the completion of a Materials Engineering lab I was struck with a raging headache, fever and bone crushing weariness.  I managed to get to my car and my apartment only by gritting my teeth and toughing it out.   I don't remember much about the next week or so except I was bed ridden only to get to the bathroom.   I think the only treatment was aspirin.   The health clinic at Cornell was overwhelmed as was the infirmary.   Care centers were set up in the dormitory lounges  for the overflows.  Needless to say I did recover, but as I write this,  I still sense the pain of that illness.
      Fast forward to 2020 63 years later and another even more tragic pandemic has struck in my lifetime.   As all skiers know, our season came to an abrupt halt in March!   I was immediately mourning the loss of the remaining days of spring skiing.  From then on the days became filled with finding ways to cope with the disruption of our normal life and seeking safe diversions.
       On keeping safe, I was an immediate user of a mask.   My engineering senses informed me that if aerosols could be the source of infection my mitigation would be a regimen of physical distancing from the infectious agent and when possibly in the presence of the agent, I would have a physical barrier in place.    Fortunately my protocol seems to be working.  However,  I have continued to avoid enclosed spaces with many people.     And if there is a necessity to be in the enclosed spaces, I severely limit my time of exposure.
       Given my dedication to keeping safe, one might ask how to I make social contacts and find appropriate diversions?   ZOOM and Facetime have been regular applications for interaction with family and friends and also professional contacts at Cornell.     Our Tough Old Geezer Skiers group has had a monthly virtual lunch meeting on Zoom a couple of times.
       As I reflect on the pandemic disruption, I am reminded that some doors to our activities have been closed and we miss many things that we took for granted.   However, as an optimist we can look to find doors that we can open to new activities and routines.   Each person has to find their own opportunities.  This should bring out a our creative side to enrich our lives.   Here are a few things I found useful over that last few months.
1.   I have stepped up my volunteer work with the Red Cross as a Transport Specialist hauling blood from the blood drives the processing center.
2.   Reading a lot more books and newspapers.
3.  Going on a disciplined weight loss program coupled with  a daily exercise routine.
4.  Going a bit overboard on solving crossword puzzles.
5.  Riding my e-bike on country roads in the ares to explore sights  I have rushed by in my car.
6.   Hiking in local and other parks in the area.
7.   Engaging in a photographic history of the defunct tower silos in Cortland County.
     I  am really excited about Number 7.   It is a fascinating bit of history how the number of dairy farms in Cortland County New York have declined over that last100 years.   Literally hundred of silos remain standing as monuments to the past glory of dairying in the county.   With the expansion of cow numbers on dairies, the tower silos have become obsolete and have been replaced by bunker silos.
A Lonely Silo from a Long Past Dairy Farm

     Yes, our lives have been seriously disrupted by the 2020 pandemic.  We hope and pray that a vaccine  and other treatment protocols will be developed soon and we will be ready for a new normal.  Let's hope we can make the new normal better the past.   Meanwhile geezer skiers, as we move towards another ski season, keep well, stay fit and hope that we can continue to enjoying skiing with the same passion of the past.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Geezer Skier Hall of Fame

     I suffer from interrupted sleep which is both disturbing but sometimes useful.  Ideas will pop into my head during my wakeful periods. One morning I got the inspiration that  we should have a Geezer Skier Hall of Fame.   There ought to be some kind of national recognition for the geezers who have contributed to the sport of skiing over their retirement years.    Perhaps the age for eligibility for this Hall could start at 65 or when we decide to take Social
Security.   Beyond longevity,  criteria for induction into this hall should have some achievements.   What should they be?
      To get some ideas for criteria I did some research on a number of Hall of
Fames.  I looked at the following sports.
      There were multiple aspects of eligibility and criteria for the inductees.   The selection processes were quite variable as well.     Eligibility almost always had an age factor,  a minimum amount of participation, and some levels of achievement supported by stats.   How the criteria factors were judged certainly did vary.   As many of you may know the Baseball Hall of Fame selections are dominated by the Baseball Writers Association of America.   Their votes over the years must reach a certain level of endorsement to accomplish induction.   It is interesting that Golf lays out very specific qualification details, even naming the number and type of events that must be won to get into consideration.     I like the  International Tennis Hall of Fame criteria for eligibility.  They provide for automatic eligibility for the stars who have won multiple majors and they provide opportunity for the lower echelon who have been the road warriors contributing to the sport over a long time.  In closing on this research I have a few words about the Skiing Hall of Fame.  Actually it is a Hall of Fame for snowsports; not just skiiing.    Anyone can submit a nomination form with appropriate supporting materials.  Of course selection will be dependent on the highest levels of achievement on both a  national and international level. 
      In conclusion I should not fail to point out that all the halls require exemplary character beyond athleticism  they excelled in.   For your own edification I suggest you do your own research.
     Now back to the matter of a Geezer Skiers Hall of Fame.  Maybe we should partner with 70+  Ski Club and piggy back on their network.   Meanwhile I challenge you readers to come up with suggestions of criteria and process.  Beyond a minimum age for induction here are a few ideas for criteria.
1.  Having skied at least 10 years after retirement.
2.  Having skied a number of days that exceeds your age for 5 years in a row.
3.  Having placed in the top ten nationally in the NASTAR competition.
4.  Having won at least one Master's race in retirement.
5.  Having served on the Ski Patrol for 5 years past age 70.
    This has been fun to write during my lock down.  Lookin forward to comments on criteria and the selection process.  Stay well everyone.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Rhythms and Routines

   I think it is the very nature of humans to enjoy life with rhythms and routines.  After all we have the circadian rhythm built in to regulate our wake and sleeping hours.   Disruption of our routines can be unsettling.  Here I am today continuing to adjust to the end of ski season transition from one routine to another.  And on top of that with the pandemic I am isolating myself from my usual off season volunteering activities.
      During the ski season I enjoy six days a week on  ski slope.  I awake with thoughts of  preparations for the day.  Breakfast is  followed by loading my warmed ski boots into my bag along with my coffee break fritter.   Also, I make sure I am using the last bit of heat yesterday's hand warmers taken from the sealed plastic bag in the freezer.  Yes, I grew up being frugal  from  living with my depression era parents on a farm.  The daily routing requires checking the weather conditions and selecting the appropriate number of layers.   The ten minute ride to the slope is sweetened with either Sirius musical oldies or Morning Edition on NPR.  Arrival is planned to be by 9:00 AM or earlier to be sure to be one of the first on the lift a half hour later. Locker room banter with fellow geezer skiers is a bonus.
     The morning skiing is appropriately interrupted with a coffee break.  Breaks can last from 15 to 45 minutes depending on where the geezer stories lead.   By noon or so, many of us are ready to head home for our lunch and  afternoon naps.  On the really good days we continue into the afternoon.
   After arriving home in the early afternoon, I have a number or tasks to fill my day.   One task upon arriving home is to record my ski data for the day.   Time of departure and return, weather conditions, ski conditions and number of runs get written on my calendar.   This year I have been using an iPhone App Ski Tracks to record more information which includes speed,  feet vertical and other aspects of the day.   In the afternoon , reading the paper, crossword puzzle solving  and napping are satisfying.   Our evenings are filled with some favorite TV programs, conversation and reading.  From all this you are probably bored by my illustrations so here are some other thoughts. 
       After the abrupt end of the ski season and the conditions of the pandemic, I have struggled to find rhythm and routine.   I think this is especially true now that we have to practice social distancing to prevent contracting a lethal infection.  As we well know the geezers are a vulnerable group.   My current routine aims at avoiding potentially infectious agents.    Fortunately, I am finding an alternative routine to fill my day with at least some meaningful activity both physical and mental.  An hour on a recumbent stationary bike is helpful to get the blood flowing and on good day a 10 to 20 mile ride on an E-bike gets me into the fresh air.   Crossword puzzles stimulate my brain and there is an ample supply of books to read.   Needless to say, a lot of chores around the house are getting done.   Somewhere I read that it takes 21 days to form a new habit or shed an old one.  I think that concept applies to getting used to a new routine.   However, now 38 days into the transition I feel like I just beginning to get the hang of it.
      On the slopes one of the greatest joys is getting into a rhythm of well executed turns while dancing down the mountain.  Perhaps that is a model for the new days we are experiencing.   We need to find a sweet spot of activities and connections that feeds our soul and enhances the appreciation of the passing days, weeks, months and years. 

Friday, April 10, 2020

Reliving the Past Ski Season

    I am somewhat obsessed with keeping records of my ski adventures over each season.  In this pandemic time I have had plenty of time to review the past season.  It relieves the boredom and brings back both good and bad memories of the 87 days on the slopes this year.
   Each season I maintain a daily diary entering the following data.
1.  Snow conditions.
2.  Low and high temperatures for the day.
3.  Weather conditions. 
4.  Time of departure from home and return to home.
5.  Number of runs.
6.  Any unusual events for the day.
This year I also have been using the app Ski Tracks.  With the app I have a record of number of runs,  number of vertical feet skied,  speeds on each run,  and a map showing that will show my runs from beginning to end  as well as the miles travelled.   It even keeps track of the length of my coffee breaks.   I can virtually go back and have a guide to my memory of any ski day.
    Over the last few days I have created a spreadsheet compiling my data in a format giving me an complete overview of the season.  Here is a summary.

87 Total Days
31 Days of sun with 10 being Blue Bird Days.
6 Rain Days
The remaining days had varying levels of cloud cover and snow.
Runs -  Total of 940 - Average of 10.8 per day, ranging from 1 to 22.
Vertical - Total of 660,843 feet 
 Average of 7596 feet per day, ranging from 541 to 15,774 feet.
High temperature of the days ranged from 9 to 63 °F  -Average 33.8 °F
Low temperature of the days ranged from 7 tp 51 °F  -  Average 27.9 °F

     I also have my own interpretive record of the slope conditions.  Most days had some level of grooming.  The dominant surface condition was groomed but firm surface.  We had too many days of one form or another of ugly.   Ugly included frozen and rough to sticky goo to mashed potatoes.   Regrettably there were 17 days that I would class as ugly conditions.    In retrospect, in spite of the massive effort by the area to make snow, we had to deal with a warmer than normal season.   Note that we never had temperatures below zero and only four days with lows in single digits. Amazingly 55 of the 87 day had a high temperature at or above freezing!
     If you have read this far, you are probably feeling like this is too much information.  That what happens when your blogger has too much time on his hands.   Tomorrow is my 85th birthday so indulge me with this rant.
     Finally I must say the numbers are only a part of the seasons story.  The daily gathering of the Tough Old Geezer Skiers at Greek Peak was a great social event for all of us.  Countless stories were told and numerous complaints were voiced.  The camaraderie of our group is priceless and can't be quantified.
      I am looking forward to next season both for the both the ski adventures and the socialization the goes with it.  May we all survive this Covid-19 pandemic and live to enjoy freedom from this curse.
     Stay safe and healthy everyone!

Friday, March 20, 2020

Levels-Breaking Through

    When you can't sleep what do you do?   I have had interrupted sleep for over 20 years so I have learned to adapt by think about things I might write about when I have my awake intervals.   Last night I began to think about levels as they relate to achievement in all kinds of activities.    Most of us are familiar with going through various levels of achievement when learning something new as well a struggling with breaking through to higher levels after we have practiced our skills for a long time.  In my shelter in place isolation after the abrupt closure of the ski area there is  time to reflect on a lot of things.
     Here are some of my thoughts on breaking through to a higher level in some of the activities I have participated in.    ( I just now finished practicing playing my clarinet.  The instrument has languished in my closet for too many years.  I never did become an accomplished player but did enjoy my days playing in my high school band even making to first clarinet.  I guess the competition wasn't that great in my small school!   To say the least I am really rusty.   Fortunately my wife is tolerant of my squeaks and squawks as I hone my skills.  The maximum level I hope to break through to is smooth enough to amuse myself.)
    At the finish of the ski season on this past Monday I had a great day skiing at a high intermediate level.  At least I thought that was the case.  My buddies will have to verify that.  I have always aspired to ski at a higher level, but have now reached an age where the body does not have the reaction time to tackle the moguls.  I was lured into some easy tree skiing this season but quickly recognized I was pushing the boundary for my own safety. 
     When I retired at age 60 I pursued a life long desire to learn to play the piano.   Our ten year old daughter at the time was taking lessons so I engaged her piano teacher to give me instruction.  We had weekly lessons with exercises to be practiced during the week.   Of course we both started at a very elementary level.   While her progress was amazingly swift, I would take a month to accomplish what she did in a week!   I took lessons for over 6 years but never was able to break through to a very competent level.   No matter how much I practiced I kept hitting a wall.   (The desire to make music on the piano has not left me now some 24 years later).  Even though I know I am not likely to move beyond an elementary level I  recently sat down to work on some simple tunes.     
      This brings me to thinking about tennis.  I has been a life long sport for me and I both enjoy playing and watching the matches.   The pros often talk about breaking through to a new level.   Even the number 1 players will keep striving to up their level of play both in the short term in a match as well in the long term of their career.  Often as the pro rises through the ranks they will speak of moving to a higher level.   Breaking through doesn't always happy and staying the high level inevitably fails.   Thus I conclude that working hard to improve is a laudable trait, but at some point one has to face reality!   Do your best,  make sacrifices that are healthy and then for your mental health accept your fate.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Geezer Skiers 10th Anniversary Lunch - 2020

      Our self identified Tough Old Geezer Skiers celebrated our 10th anniversary with a lunch this past Wednesday at the Trax Restaurant of Greek Peak Ski Resort.  Traditionally we have had a near end of season gathering to reflect on the season, enjoy food and drink, swap stories and speculate on what going to happen next season.   At our tenth we had a dozen in attendance.  A few regulars were missing.  At least on due to the corona virus issues.  Yes, we are the vulnerable group in this world pandemic.
    To spice things up,  I administered the following quiz.   There were ten ballots that I was able to collect.
(Circle True or False, or fill in the blank)

1.     I have fallen at least once this ski season.                                        True    False
2.     I started skiing at what age _____________.
3.     What Geezer Skier do you think has been skiing for the most years? ____________
4.    At least one of my grandchildren is a skier.                              True     False
5.    _____________ probably has the most days of skiing this year.
6.    I have had a joint replacement.                                                      True      False
7.    My biggest ski fantasy is __________________.
8.      I have had no surgeries.                                                              True       False
9.    What Greek Peak Staff person would you elect MVP this year?
      10.   How many former geezer skiers can you name?  

We shared our responses while waiting for our food and enjoyed hearing the different responses to the open ended questions as well as the numerical tabulations for the true-false questions. 
Question 1.   70% percent had fallen at least once this season.
Question 2.  The age of starting skiing ranged f rom 4 to 72.  However the most dominant age for starting was late 20's to early 30's.

Question 3.  I know that Allen B. probably took the cake since he started shortly after WWII and is now 92 but hung it up this year.  Numerous others were mentioned where many of them have been skiing over 50 years and still going.

Question 4.  50% have at least one grandchild on the slopes.

Question 5.  Among our group I have had the most ski days this year.   As of yesterday 85.   Among our group over 40 days of skiing  is common.

Question 6.   Only 2 of the 10 have had a joint replacement.  Nice statistic.  However I know of at least one not in attendance that has had a hip replacement.  And note that all with these replacements are regular skiers.

Question 7.  This was dream time.  Some were looking to ski to 90+.   Those that had not skied some of the big mountains would like to ski Vail, Stowe etc.   We have one young geezer who really loves tree skiing.   Many yearn for endless days of powder skiing.   My fantasy is to be able to  go helicopter skiing in untracked powder of British Columbia.

Question 8.   90% of us have had at least one surgery.   I don't know who the lone soul that hasn't had a surgery.  But God bless him for being so fortunate.

Question 9.  Over many years we have made a plaque award to Greek Peak staff whom we most appreciate.  No physical award this year but several people were identified as providing  outstanding service from cleaning to lift loading to management.  We like to encourage excellence at our home ski area.

Question 10.   This was memory time for all those that have passed on to the moguls in the sky or have simply aged out of the sport they loved.   We miss those friends with whom wet spent many companionable days on the slopes along with coffee breaks and lunches.  If we were to compile a list of these bygone skiers it would likely add up to 30 to 40 individuals.   This is a reminder we need to recruit the next generation of Tough Old Geezer Skiers.

      We had our cake at the end of the lunch and we were happy to share a piece with a young lad of 5 or so who happened by our table in company of his mother.  She was pleased to take a picture of the cake to share with her parents or maybe grandparents who  were skiers in the geezer category.  A delight to know that there a youngsters out there who will some day remember in their geezerhood a bunch of old guys having fun on the slopes.
     It looks like we are done for the season.  Much too early to suit me, but we will scatter to our off season activities and look forward to gathering again on the slopes in November!   May global warming begin to be mitigated!   
Great Tasting Marble Cake

A Line Up of the Crew

Cutting the Cake - Doing the Honors

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

I Want a Handicap!

   Over the last year or so I have become connected with a website  They have an interesting weekly news postings focused on issues for the over 50 skiers.   The articles range from weather to equipment to history to accident and safety issues.  In addition they also have recognition of skiers who ski more days than their age.  For the 2018-2019 season I met that standard and was a recipient of their Trail Master Badge.  Like a Boy Scout, I have tried to attach it to my jacket but haven't yet found the right glue.
    As one might expect the criteria to get the badge becomes harder and harder as one gathers the years.  At age 84 this season I am on schedule to make the required number of ski days tomorrow if I can tolerate the ugly conditions at my local ski slope.   However, in the coming years it is going to be a challenge to meet the award criteria.   In the sport of golf handicaps are awarded, so why not give those of us over eighty a handicap of adding some days from previous seasons when we were younger?   I have kept of the days I ski for the last 22 years.  For almost all of those years my ski days far  exceeded  my age.   Some year in the future I plan to use those banked days when I simply don't have the get up and go to ski something like 90 days!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Do We Ever Learn?

   One would think if you have lived into your 80's you would have learned to avoid perilous situations.  However, when it comes to skiing, I still have a lot to learn.   My avid pursuit of skiing sometimes overwhelms my common sense.  I wonder if that is true for other geezer skiers?  Probably many of them have more sense than I do.
    Case in point is my ski adventure today.  I have been wanting to go to a change of venue at Toggenburg Ski Area in lieu of my usual day at Greek Peak.   Over night we had a snowfall of several inches of fairly wet stuff.  In my stupidity I thought that it would be skiable.  Several of my companions decided to bow out of the excursion so the intrepid Tim was the youngster that joined me. 
   After donning boots and gearing up we headed up the slope.  Although the snow was wet the skis were not sticking.  However,  this geezer  immediately became tentative and  I  found I was having a tough time turning even though I really had the right skis for the conditions.   Unfortunately I really didn't have it and had an early but mild crash.   Tim helped me unlatch the boots and I was able to collect myself enough to get down the slope.  A one and done day.
      I hope I have learned enough of a lesson from today to know when fold them and avoid going beyond my capability.    I should be thankful, that I can still participate in the sport at my age.    But I still have some of that  20 year old invincibility that drives me to do foolish things.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Ski Lift Evacuation- The Unexpected Experience

    A few days ago I wrote a piece about taking things for granted after we had a water shut down in our home.  In that blog I mentioned how we take for granted that the ski lift is going to get us to the top again and again without a hitch.  Wow!  Would you believe a few days later I experienced my first lift failure in over 50 years on the slopes.  Today I was stranded with two companions in my chair on the lift for over an hour until we were safely and efficiently evacuated by the Greek Peak staff and Ski Patrol.  When the lift stopped and then began to freewheel backward, I did have a moment of gut wrenching panic.  Thankfully the safety brake kicked in and we were brought to a halt.  Friend Tim and wife Anne were near the top and noted it was apparent quick action by the lift attendant that brought things to a safe halt.
    The photos below give you a sense of what happened as during the evacuation.  Kudos to the staff and Ski Patrol at Greek Peak for rapid response and a calm and effective guidance for all of use as we were lowered to the slope.  For the younger riders it was fortunate there were companions that helped them with the evacuation procedure.  When I landed, I challenged the rescuers find anyone on the lift that was older than my 84 years.  I have yet to hear!
      I could not have had a better set of companions on our chair.  We swapped stories and generally developed a unique collegial relationship.   For three people who had never met before, it was delightful endorsement of the collegiality of skiers as a rule.  There is a unique bonding that takes place when you are mutually facing and crisis or emergency.  Dianne and Graham are pictured below.  Dianne who was the brave first one to be lowered, photographed both Graham and me. 
        We were provided with a shuttle for transport to the lodge. However, Graham has driven to the bottom of the lift, so he kindly transported Dianne and me back to headquarters.   We bid adieu and I enjoyed coffee and warm up with friends Tim and Anne.   Thanks to  texting Tim and I were in communication during our ordeal!
       Not problem for finding inspiration for writing this blog!
Youngster Lowered Ahead of Us

Dianne and Graham

Me Midair Shortly After Launch

Approaching Landing

Successful Landing