Wednesday, April 28, 2021

About Getting Mad

     I usually read my daily horoscope in the Syracuse Post-Standard.  I read it for amusement rather than for seeing it as a template for my day.   Mostly the advice is the kind that can fit a wide array of interpretations.    Occasionally there are real gems of wisdom that one can take to heart.   A few days ago my horoscope included the closing statement:  "Don't get mad about something you can't change".      It blew me away in a surprising way as being great insight for leading a more peaceful life.

    There are a lot things in society today that can touch my hot button.  On a daily basis I see behaviors that are so uncivil they are beyond comprehension.  Perhaps I have a rose colored picture of my decades ago childhood and youth.   Public cursing using four letter words was unheard of.   Disrespect for elders by youth brought stern retribution and was basically held in check.   Not so today!  Outrageous claims are bandied about to sully reasonable discourse.   All of these things can trigger feelings of disgust and anger.   Is it reasonable to allow these things to raise my ire?   Is there anything that I can do to change the course of societal behavior other than my anger?  As a responsible member of society, righteous anger can be a positive motivator to effect some good.   The kicker is to channel ones anger toward things you can change.   I guess what I will keep trying tamp down my anger about the things I cannot change and look for opportunities to contribute to a more civil social and political society. 

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Too Many Choices

    Sometimes I find myself overwhelmed by too many choices.  Of course it is nice to have options but when there is a plethora of choices, it can be confusing and even stressful.   Some time ago we visited a Japanese restaurant with a stupendous array of buffet items.   After wandering up and down the aisles of options, I was in a quandary of what to choose.  It would be impossible to sample everything even in small portions.  I had to shut down my confusion and simply pick a few items that were more familiar to me.   Imagine what it would be like for someone who had never encountered a huge array of choices in a grocery store.  

     In my distant past  of the late 1970's I hosted a visiting engineer from the Soviet Union.  We set up a comfortable apartment near the Cornell University Campus.   As a part of our welcome two of us took him to a local super market to stock up on food and household items.   During our shopping spree he was in a daze.   In his life he had never seen that many different food choices in one location.  He had been living in a country where one choice of a food would be available for a short period of time.   While we were checking out the array of cheeses in a cooler, he decided that he better take one of every choice there.  (In retrospect, he thought the abundance was a set up and this food wouldn't be available the next time he shopped).   Later as we became friends, we would laugh about this.

    Is there a psychology about having too many choices?   Is there an optimum number of choices to satisfy the customer?   Probably each of us has an optimum number of choices built into our personality.   Because this blog has a skiing theme I am ending on that note.   When skiing at my local ski area the number of slopes open on any day varies.    If all slopes were open, I probably would be unable to sample the entire mountain.  In this case the many choices of slopes wouldn't stress me out.  On the flip side I can tell you that when only a half dozen or less trails are open it is not enough.  Conclusion:   Too many choices or too few choices can be stressful in their own way.   I want the sweet spot of choices!  Not too many to overwhelm me, but enough to convince me I can be satisfied.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Changing Seasons

     So strange on this mid-April day to see snow coming down outside my sun room window while exercising on my recumbent bike.   The ski season here is wrapped up so I am transitioning to another exercise pattern.  Fortunately a few days ago we were out on the tennis courts.  For now it looks like we have a week or so of lower temperatures.  Alas, I need to find some indoor activities.     I am somewhat envious of the folks in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine who will likely get in a few more days on the slopes.  Although the conditions are likely to be challenging with the high water content of the new snow fall.

    Changing seasons does jolt one out their usual routine.   During the ski season there is no doubt about what I will be doing at least six days of the week.   However in this changing season time I am still struggling to find my rhythm.   There is no doubt I will get in some exercise one way or another.   With warmer weather tennis will become more of a daily routine.   As other things shake out, hiking some local trails at least once a week will be on the agenda.   And the e-bike is charged up and ready to hit the road. 

    Of course exercise is not the only thing for the day.   Since this old geezer is still committed to our own lawn and landscaping care there is always a chore or two to keep me occupied.   Also to adapt to the off ski season I always need a project for mental stimulus.     I am looking forward to continuing my silo project to photograph all the silos in Cortland County, New York.  I have covered about 75 percent of the county so far visiting over 250 sites.   Many of my sites have silos that have been defunct for over 80 years.   It is a fascinating study of the change of the dairy industry in rural America.   I look forward to interviewing retired dairy farmers.   I hope to elicit from them their experiences in transitioning from active farms of several generations to retirement or other employment.  The use of their silos will be chronicled in the process.  I hope to hear when the silos were added to their operation and when these structures were retired from use.   The silos are truly monuments of history.   Just as there are transitions in the seasons of the year, there are transitions in industries,  agriculture and our lives.   Hopefully I will be able to capture those transitions in word and photos.

    Perhaps these musings are part of my continuing search for meaning in life beyond the simple pleasures of the day.   I expect much of the time we ramble through the days without a great deal of thought of the impact we have on society and the world.  There  is comfort in being a bit numb about our meaning in the world.    However, I think we all have a yearning to leave this world having left some sort of legacy.   Hopefully a legacy that has made this world a little better because of our existence.  

    (If you have read this far, I hope you haven't wasted your time.)    

Remnant of a One Time Successful Dairy Operation

Monday, April 12, 2021

Embracing Stains, Flaws and Mistakes

     A few days ago my wife Nancy spilled some tea in our den.  She said, "It's not too bad and won't even leave   a stain."   My immediate reaction was to say,"Not a problem, its just a mark of living life".  I don't know where that came from.  Upon further reflection I think I have mellowed enough to realize striving for a perfect environment is not necessarily a good thing.

    I think there is real merit in embracing the stains, flaws and mistakes we make in living our lives.   I am not suggesting that we get lackadaisical but let's recognize that we should not be obsessed with always having to be perfect.  (even in skiing).

 I remember reading about someone who had a dining room table that showed a lot of nicks, scratches and dings.  A friend asked why he didn't refinish it?   His reply was that each of the flaws was a reminder of a family gathering of celebration around that table.   Of course there are some mistakes we would like to forget.  Perhaps the best way to embrace those memories is  process what has been learned from the mistakes and use the insight as a reminder to live a better life in the future.

    All of us have made mistakes in our relationships.   Some are more serious than others.  There are broken friendships, divorces, and estrangements.  All of those have left a mark in our lives.  However I would hope that in retrospect, we had learned something from those events and moved on to improved relationships without wallowing in too much regret and remorse.  

        Just as a tea stain on the rug fades with time, the flaws in our psyches are healed.   



Friday, April 9, 2021

End of the Season Thoughts

     Two days ago I wrapped up my 20-21 season on the closing day for Greek Peak.  The Peak was open for 111 days and I managed to log 81 days skiing with 79 days at the Peak and two at Toggenburg.  Many of the days at Greek I was musing about the character of this season.  In many ways it was a good season albeit a strange season too.  We were careful on the slopes and in the lodges to social distance and wear our masks.  To my knowledge we had no infections as a result of our ski adventures.  At least where I was skiing.  For those of us who commonly ski weekdays and mostly in the morning, it was strange to have so many youngsters on the slopes.  With remote learning the school kids were free to be with us during the week almost any time.

    What was missing in this strange year of the pandemic?  I regret to that a whole host of my geezer friends were not skiing for one reason or another.  Truly I am saddened that so many had injuries or health problems preventing them from participating in the sport we love so much.  For many  I am looking forward to their return in 21-22.   I missed the companionship of our mid-morning coffee breaks.   This year I took no mid-morning breaks and skied through the morning and completed my day no later than one o'clock.     A new pattern!

    I spent many hours at Greek Peak sensing the aura of past experiences skiing with old friends that have now passed away.   At various trails I would recall our mutual experiences.   Do other long term  skiers have those memories?   Here are  number of events that came to mind. 

    Bob Jenkins and I were trying Olympian one day and found it to be a real rough ride.  I made it down and waited for Bob.  He didn't show so I knew I had to go back and see what happened but really didn't really want to do it.  He had crashed and by the time I got to his location, he had himself together.   I guess I just should have waited for a while longer.  Bob was a great guy and since has passed away.  I miss his sage advice and great integrity.

    Some years ago a group of us had a kick for improving our skiing by doing Gorilla Turns.  The idea was to bend down, tough the top of your boots and press and tip the ski to engage the turn.   There we were on the slope doing apelike motions which I suspect amused observers.   Several of that crew have passed on.   Marty Stiles for one is gone but not forgotten.  A real mensch who started skiing in his late sixties and became an institution at Greek Peak.  He even qualified to do some instructing.   He had a cynical wit that always entertained me.

    While riding the lift a few days ago my companion and I riding on the Visions Express Quad were approaching the end where it was time to lift the safety bar.   I was prompted to remember our geezer companion Bob Sanjoule who had a thing about when to lift the safety  bar.   He would insist that the bar not be raised before passing one of the last towers.   This became known to be Bob's Rule.   Bob has now passed on but his memory lives in the minds of many skiers that rode with him.

    I could go on for a long time recalling so many memories of geezers past and events we shared but I would like to end on a forward looking note.   This past season has been one of making new memories.   I have had the privilege of getting to know and ski with the next geezer generation.   Yes, there are the sixties something guys and gals showing up to fill the ranks.   Most are hard core skiers of the past who now have a bit more free time.   Generations come and generations go, but the love of skiing prevails in a core population.  I am happy to think that when I leave this earth there will be a group of "youngsters" that might tell some stories about me.