Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I'm #1

Check it out. It doesn't mean much, but I'm in first in this catagory of recreational ski racing for now and for what it's worth. You have to celebrate the little things in life when you get the chance! Honestly it doesn't mean that much,... unless you are #2 Fred. :) It won't last. Everything is in a constant state of change, so you have to enjoy the moment.

Watch out Park City, Aspen, Sun Valley, Steamboat and Telluride. Forget about the midwest and east. Make room for the Elmo ski club! I'm #1!


I have to add that there is a faster catagory than this one and I'm right on the bubble of going into it. Then I'll be in last place :) But for now, rejoice!

Rank CompetitorHometown

1 Don
Elmo, MT

2 Fred
St. Paul, MN
3 Larry
Lino Lakes, MN
4 Oscar
Miami, FL
5 Mark
Aspen, CO
6 Adi
Houston, TX
Chaska, MN
8 Mike
Shakopee, MN
9 George
Oronoco, MN
10 Kris
Steamboat Springs, CO
11 Jeff
Traverse City, MI
Saint Paul, MN
13 Ian
Park City, UT
14 Dan
Grand Blanc, MI
15 TED
Edina, MN
Mahtomedi, MN
17 Jeff
Commerce Twp, MI
18 Alan
Boyne City, MI
19 Harry
Park City, UT
20 Tommy
Hailey, ID
21 TIM
Burnsville, MN
22 Mark
Park City, UT
23 John
Minneapolis, MN
24 Brian
Ketchum, ID
25 Roger
Leadville, CO
26 JON
Excelsior, MN
27 Daniel
Savage, MN
28 Bill
Edina, MN
29 Erik
Twin Mountain, NH
30 Chet
Cadillac, MI
31 Lyle
Park City, UT
32 Ross
Welch, MN
33 Kelly
Sandpoint, ID
34 Kip
Highland Lakes, NJ
35 Mark
Saint Paul, MN
36 Russ
Indianapolis, IN
37 Sean
Park City, UT
38 Tom
York, PA
39 Brad
Eagan, MN
40 Randy
Park City, UT
41 Daniel
Telluride, CO
Eagan, MN
43 JIM
Plymouth, MN
44 Billy
Avon, CO
45 Jerry
Livonia, MI
46 Greg
Telluride, CO
North Branch, MN
48 George
Waunakee, WI
Plymouth, MN
50 Michael
Rosemount, MN
51 Michael
Concord, NH
White Bear Lake, MN
Houlton, WI
Plymouth, MN
55 Jacob
Minneapolis, MN
Lakeville, MN
Savage, MN
Minnetonka, MN
59 Dana
Marblehead, MA

Monday, January 29, 2007

Hot potatoes

I went to Barnes and Noble today and bought a book called Reading Lolita in Tehran And I also bought a CD by Regina Spektor

I did listen to a little of the CD on my way back to work but I have to say that it's something I'm going to have to consume for a while before I come to conclusions about it.

I can't think of anything else tonight so here is a really strange dream I had the other night.

In my dream, (I know, I started with a preposition, but it sounds better this way) I went to a meeting at a fairgrounds building. I was in this building with other people waiting for instruction. These people were making small talk and sitting around on lunchroom tables. There was dirty orange shag carpet on the floor. I brought with me one of those plastic milk crates full of old potatoes. They were rotten potatoes. I don't know what I was doing with that. Nobody came to give us instruction so we ended up leaving one by one. As we were leaving all of these old western cowboy people were showing up for a square dance convention or something. Old men and women in cowboy hats and vests and such. My potatoes were starting to get hot. They were crackling in the crate. I was looking for a dumpster to throw them away in on my way out of the fairgrounds. As I was walking out, and all of these old people were coming in, I passed a bathroom. I put the crate of potatoes down and asked an old guy to watch them for me while I went to the bathroom. When I came back out my potatoes were on fire and lots of old people were standing around watching them burn.

It burned the path that had some sort of tile on it and made a big mess. So one old guy said "you're going to have to talk to Levi about this." I was a little ticked off that nobody moved them off of the path or tried to put them out. So I said "Ok where is Levi?" "He's down over there in that house." So I went to the house and there was a porch with more old people who were related to Levi I guess and I asked to see him. "Go inside, he's down in the basement, but he don't come up." "You'll have to talk to him through the heat vent." Well I thought that was a little strange. There was a hole in the floor where they had removed a vent and down in the dark basement was this old guy. "You Levi?" I asked. "Yep, what do ya need?" "Well I'm very sorry about this, but I put my potatoes down on the path and they caught on fire and damaged the tile." I said. "We'll go take a look." he responded. "I thought you didn't come out of the basement?" I said. "I've got a golf cart." Levi said.

So I went outside and here he came in the golf cart from around back. We rode out to the spot where the potatoes had caught on fire, and kind of got to know eachother on the drive. He was a pretty nice old guy. We got to the spot and Levi looked it over. "Oh it aint that bad." he said. "Just don't do it again." It was a relief as I thought I was going to have to pay for the tile.

Comment links lost

Some comments have lost links and became known as anonymous. I think that happened when I switched my blog to the beta. I'm not sure what if anything I can do about that right now or if it matters to anyone. I do like to visit other blogs and did not remove them myself. When I get more time I'll look into it.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Concrete condo

I was on the mountain both days this weekend. Saturday was a bluebird day with not a cloud in the sky. I skied well and got my lowest times. Today I got some one on one instruction from one of the fastest ski racers on the mountain and is also a juniors coach. That was a bonus because instruction like that can really cost you. So I got two runs with him and didn't even ask. Now I have some things to work on.

Someone built this really cool condo on the mountain. It's industrial looking. Just all concrete on the outside with some steel decks. It has a flat roof, and I thought that is kind of questionable as there is so much snow up there. But it has a system that drains through the building. I still think it's questionable. They had an open house so I decided to take a look before I came home.

The heating was in the floor and the flooring was cork in the front area. It had a gas fireplace. Many walls on the inside are also concrete, and the ceiling is metal trusses on the upper level. It kind of had a loft look. Plus they made it all turn key with furniture. They did a nice job on that. It had a soaking tub like the one I have here at my house, and also a small sauna. The photo makes it look warmer than it actually looked. You can't see the grey concrete walls in this shot. There was also a nice exercise room and ski storage room.

I didn't care for the counter tops. They could have left out the furniture and put in nicer counter tops, but I didn't tell the gal that. She and her husband built the condos. I guess you could change that. The same was true about the bathroom. Concrete counter tops would have been perfect in there. The top unit had an electric stove top with hidden burners. I don't care for those. The lower unit had gas stove top and if you cook, that's what you really want. The ovens were also too complicated. Think about it,.. a knob that sets the temp is what you want and nothing more, not a display that is hard to read and navigate. I get enough of that at work. I do a lot of cooking and I didn't want to tell her that I hated the ovens, and if you have the money to buy this then it really wouldn't be an issue, as you could change it all, but she was acting like they were selling points.

The back bedroom kind of looked like a prison cell. (except for the nice bed) That could be a good thing :) Just kidding! I'm standing in the kitchen area in this photo and the gas fireplace is on the left infront of the sofa. It was slick, and cost $465k per unit. It gave me some design ideas.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The best pair won

Now the US Figure Skating Chamionships is over for me. I got to see the pairs short and long programs. The pair I picked to win won. So that was cool. I only know her first name, Brooke, and his last name which I don't want to spell wrong. I'll come back in and edit this and fill in the names. The reason they won is that they never screwed up and were so tight and together on everything. Plus she was the most atletic of all of the women. They got a standing ovation tonight after their performance and nobody else did. It was just their night.
This photo is from the short program, but it shows how high he could throw her and how buffed she is. She has "junk in her trunk". (I know a guy who used to play football for the Chargers who taught me that.:) She looks good from behind anyway.
They looked good from all sides. They deserved to win. Below is the guy who wore fishnet the other day. She was also really athletic. They are young and still improving as a pair. He almost fell when he threw here in this shot.
She is going to be really good. When they were warming up she was skating backwards and making these "slalom turns" back and forth and I think it was one of the most beaufiful things I saw during the whole event.

So I guess I learned a few things. First, photography:

I learned how hard it is to get decent shots at something like this from the crowd. It was ok to take photos, you just can't sell them, you couldn't use flash, and you couldn't take movies. There's a lot of "noise/ grain" in the photos as I'm pushing my camera to it's limits to get exposures, zoom in, and still stop action. So these don't have much value except for e-mail or something. I did crop and shrink the size down to post. The ice was so bright and the seating area was dark, so if I metered light off of the ice, the shot would be dark, before each shot I'd meter between the the two and then turn and get the shot. At the same time I'd zoom, compose, and focus and judge when something cool would happen. It wasn't easy. There are a lot nicer digital cameras than mine. At some point I'll up-grade, but no matter what camera you have you still have to understand a few things to make it all work. It isn't like you can go out and buy a great camera and it will do everythihg for you. It just doesn't work that way.

Second: I no longer have the attitude I used to have about figure skating. I mostly had an attitude because of how terrible the coverage of ski racing is during the Olympics in compairson. I realize that skating makes for a more popular TV show and is easier to cover. But when it comes to "sports" I'm not sure if this is pure sport. This kind of crosses over into entertainment, especially when the results are not clear to the viewers. Several times the scoring made no sense and just seemed unfair. I think that's a problem they need to work on. But tonight the best pair won and I had picked them as my favorite, so it's all good. (Plus it was FREE!)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

When I go away

I have to take a short break from my coverage of figure skating to sort a few other things out. They are very important.
Well at least they are on my mind right now.

I never liked Tom Hanks that much. Splash was a good movie however. (It was Hanks in Splash wasn't it?) But I've never been crazy about Forest Gump. There is one scene in Forest Gump however that I've been thinking about for all of these months that I've been blogging, and that's the scene in which he is running and running. He has all of these people following him, running along with him. Then all of a sudden he stopps running and turns and says. "I'm done running now.", and then just walks away in the other direction.

I've always thought that's the way I'll quit blogging. I'll just stop and say, "I'm done blogging now." And then just stop...

Or, the other scenerio is that I'll be forced to stop, kicked out of office like Nixon. But instead of a helicopter, I'll go away in a Hyundai. A small difference. I'd give a speech in that case, but I'm sure they won't let me.

I had to switch to beta from the old version of blogger. I resisted because new things aren't always good things. New Coke wasn't that good for example.

Ok there's that.

The skating was ESPN2 tonight and has been the last three nights. I didn't realize that. I just thought they were recording it. So I might have been on TV last night. You don't see much of the crowd. Women's finals will be on Saturday live on ABC at 4 eastern if you want to watch that. I'm pretty sure it will be on ESPN2 tomorrow live also.

Don't try this at home

Here are more photos from pairs short program. This guy's costume had a fishnet opening on his arm. I had to deduct a few style points for that! Don't try wearing this outfit at home. At least not if you live in Montana! The length some guys will go to to get the ladies :) She probably put him up to it. "I bought you something today honey...It would really make me happy if you'd wear it tonight..."

I'm just kidding. These guys were great. A plain black shirt would have been better though,..well ok, a few sequins I guess,...but just a few.

Pairs short program

I went to the opening ceremony of the US Figure Skating Champoinships tonight that included the pairs short program. But before that, I had tickets to this gathering at the performing arts center. The govener showed up as did the mayor. It was great, and there really weren't many people there. I'd say around 100. The hors d'oeuvres were outstanding! They had Salmon and beef, shrimp and antipasto that was really good and all kinds of other stuff including all kinds of cheese that went nicely with the wine. Plus the drinks were free! They had imported and domestic beer, and three kinds of wine. All you could drink and eat! It was a total bonus because I didn't have any dinner and was a little worried about starving. After I got stuffed, and listened to a few speeches, we went outside to view the fireworks.

Then we went to the arena for the competition. There were these huge lines. But I had practice passes, so we went right to the front. The passes didn't matter as they opened many doors and we went right in. It all worked out really well and we had good seats. It was on one end of the rink. As always the judging didn't seem fair. I thought the pair in 3rd position should have won. The crowd even voiced it's opinion on one judgement, so we will see. I have tickets to the pairs finals/ long program on Friday. That way we can see who won.

I learned some things about what to expect taking photographs. Here is one shot I took. I'll post some more tomorrow night and again Friday night to give you an idea of what it was like. I can't tell you who it is in that photo right now. I'll get the book at work tomorrow and let you know.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Be prepared

I joined Cub Scouts at a tender age, and it went well. I got the uniform and worked my way through the ranks. But women were "den mothers" It wasn't the experience we cubs wanted. We wanted to chop wood and make camp fires, and go camping and that sort of thing. I was doing that with my parents anyway. My father was in the Forest Service as my mom had been and my Grandfater was a ranger. But these "den mothers" had us doing girly things,.. artistic things.

Things went well for me in the Cub Scouts, but I couldn't wait to graduate to Boy Scouts, and boy was I in for it.

First of all, the scout master was a cigerette smoking, beer drinking meat butcher. My parents didn't smoke or drink. His sons were in the scouts. Our troop was nothing less than a gang, and hazing for the young scouts was way out of control, and it went on beyond the whole first year. I went in from Cub Scouts with two of my friends, Larry and Mark. Both of them lasted only a few meetings. They quit and joined a Christian group. But I couldn't bring myself to fail as I really wanted to belong and wear the uniform and all of that.

There was a total lack of leadership. The scout master would open the Troop Meeting and then go to a break room and smoke cigarettes and drink coffee with the other "leaders". Meanwhile the ranking scouts would haze the Tenderfoots. I won't go into all of the things they did.

And then there were the Patrol Meetings. Each young scout would get assigned to a Patrol. That was headed by a ranking scout. The Patrol Leader. And there was also an assistant Patrol Leader. You would go and meet at their house, and there was no supervision of that meeting at all. I was told to wear my uniform to my first Patrol Meeting. When I got there I was handed a coffee can that had a slit cut in the top and a piece of tape on it that read Boy Scout Camp. They told me to go from house to house and collect money for Boy Scout Camp. And then return at the end of the meeting. So I did. Then when I got back the leadership just pocketed the money. But I gained trust. And we prided ourselves in being tougher than the other troops, and we were as we played outside of the rules.

There was this one guy you really had to watch out for. He was an older scout but hadn't grown very big. So he had a "small boy complex" And he was ruthless. He was a "life" Scout. He ended up making "Eagle" The parents loved him and he really played it up. But he was a little nazi.

Rank ruled in our troop. At the camp outs you really had to watch your back. One time at a jamboree, he found a walking cain. We were all standing around a big Bonn fire at night and he was cruising around the perimeter with this cain and would put it between your legs and then pull up on it. I saw him coming and knew what he was up to. He put the cain between my legs and I grabbed it and fell backwards onto him. I pinned him and forced the cain onto his neck as all of the other scouts grouped around yelling. He choked "let me up! let me up!" So after I thought I had made my point I did let him up as I knew he would get even if I didn't. He never bothered me after that. Still I had to watch my back and I never trusted him.

At the camp-outs the main thing the scouts did on their free time was to play penny-anti poker. I once got accused of taking an older scouts money at a summer camp. I didn't do it. I looked up to this guy. He was popular and I thought he was cool. He knew I didn't do it but he kept on me about it. He kept saying 'you can come clean don". But I wouldn't admit to something I didn't do. So I vowed to never gamble after that and except for buying a lottery ticket now and then I don't.

Years later I took a date to a place where he was a bartender. He recognized me. So I brought it up. He didn't remember it.

I guess I learned a few things from scouting. I learned how to defend myself. I learned not to gamble. I learned that things are not always as they appear. I learned to question leadership. I learned the importance of being kind to others, and I learned how to tie a few knots. So I guess scouting was a good experience for me. It prepared me for life.

I never made it past the rank of"first class." When it came time for me to continue the tradition I just wouldn't do it and quit. I think the troop kind of fell apart after that and the cycle of corruption ended. I'm not really sure what happened after my class of cubs quit. I think the whole thing sort of imploded on it's self.

Here is a photo of my Cub Scout Ring. It's silver, very small, and it's kind of cool. The photo doesn't do it justice. Did you know that you can clean silver with toothpaste? I didn't learn that in scouts.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Hold my hand

It was one of those nights that when I put my head down on the pillow at night, the next time I opened my eyes it was morning and time to get up. All of those hours passed as if they were one second. One minute at most. Unlike yesterday the weather was calm today. It was overcast however and sometimes the clouds were all the way down and I was in fog as I drove to the mountain. The road was clear, but you couldn't see the mountains from the valley floor. I parked in the lower parking lot, got my gear on and made my way to the bunny hill lift that would take me to the main resort area.

There were quite a few people standing in several lines including a ski school of very little kids and a couple of instructors. They were finding single adults to ride with the kids. So I stepped up. I got paired up with a little girl. The ski school kids wear different colored bibs depending on their ability level. There is a clear pocket on the front and back that has their name written on a piece of paper and their number. I was with Claire #8. She was very small and she had a green bib as did all of the rest of the kids in this group.

I know that black is the most advanced, and I think the colors go, white, blue, green, red, black, but I could be wrong. One little guy explained the system to me once. He was a black bib and he let me know that was the best. For instance if you are a blue bib, you can't get back up by yourself if you fall down. These are very small kids.

"Can you get on ok?" I asked Claire. "Yes" she said. We skied out and the operator helped her on the chairlift. Her legs were so short that her knees didn't bend and stuck straight out on the chair. I always reach around with my arm behind the center post of the chair and get a hold of their jacket when I ride with a little kid like this. I also put my ski poles on my lap and infront of them so that I have them completely restricted if need be. Sometimes they start to wiggle around.

"How old are you Claire?" I asked. "4" she said. "4,.. Cool!" I said. She had a pink jacket with a hood that I was holding onto. She had a helmet and pink goggles. Her little skis had masking tape on them that each said Claire #8.

When we got to the top of the lift I asked, "Do you know how to get off?" "Mm mm mm" she said. "What? I asked, "Mm mm mm." she said. "Ok" I said. I couldn't hear what she said as she spoke so softly so I just prepared myself to grab her and lift her off. Then she turned and looked up at me with this little smile. She reached around and took my hand from behind her back, guided it around the center pole of the lift and said "Hold my hand." "Oh, hold your hand, ok" I said. And I took her little hand.

We both stood up and she jumped off the chair and used my hand to steady herself. We skied off holding hands. :) "Good Job Claire!" I said as she let go of my hand. Away she went with her little pink arms out and joined her group of little skiers who were waiting for her. Like a little duckling swimming back into the fold. It made my day.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Here I am crashing in the gates last year or the year before. I don't remember so I must have konked my head. :)

First I fell and was slidding down the hill. I'm still going pretty fast in this photo. Probably about 35mph.

Then I slid into the next gate which broke and spun me around.

And then I slid to a stop and was ok.

I don't remember too much about this crash except that I went all the way over when I first fell. I was just sliding in the first photo trying to keep pressure off of my skis. My skis didn't come off in the fall. Usually if I fall skiing I try and get my skis up hill from my body. If your skis are infront of you, then you want to keep the pressure off of them or they will catch and can twist and tear your knee. I'm still sliding in this last photo but trying to keep my skis off the snow. The last thing you ever want to do is try and stand back up if you are sliding down the hill. Just wait until you come to a stop.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Out of a box

I can always tell when Super 1 Foods has a cereal sale. The parking lot is packed. People can save a buck on a box of cereal, and they come in hoards to do so. I went into the store to get my regular groceries and ended up buying a box of Cheerios. One serving of Cheerios is 1 cup for adults. I can eat 1 cup of Cherrios in nothing flat and not even feel like I ate anything. One serving also includes 1/2 cup of skim milk. I always buy skim milk but they add sugar to it to make up for the lack of taste and sugar turns to fat. But I've digressed. 1 cup of Cherrios has 10 percent of the sodium we need for the day. I can't taste any salt in it at all. I can get by on very little but I need at least twice that much for breakfast and that is if I don't plan on skiing or cycling until lunch. It's only 100 calories. I think Jack Lalanne had it right. Don't eat anything out of a box.

I heard on the radio or TV recently that if you want to make your blog interesting then don't talk about what you had for lunch. Something like that. I totally disagree. I think food is very interesting. I love cooking and love food. Who doesn't?

I recently learned how to properly cook rice. I love rice, but I went all of this time goofing it up so I didn't eat it. One of my hunting parteners showed me how to cook rice while way up in the woods last fall. He learned how to cook it from an Iraqi family in his neighborhood. What you do is boil a lot of water. Then put some rice in and let it boil for about 10 min. You just need way more water than rice. Then drain off the water then set the stove to low and put a towel over the top of the pot and then put the lid on, and then go for another 10 min. The towel absorbs the remaining water and the rice turns out perfect. Duh. But nobody ever taught me. Now I have rice all the time.

I really need to talk about the US Ski Team. It will have to wait for my next post.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Yo-Yo Ma interview

Every weekend morning when I go skiing I listen to Weekend Edition as I can get it all the way to the ski lift. I do have to change stations half the way there and I know exactly where to change over and it's the same broadcast. So that works out great.

One thing of interest this last weekend was an interview with Yo-Yo Ma. I think I'm going to have to get his new CD "Appassionato" which you can read about HERE at the NPR website. You can also listen to some audio clips. I'm sure it's a great CD.

The thing he said that really touched home for me was about old time fiddle music. He said that this music came across the Atlantic with emigrants mostly from Scotland and Ireland and was taught from one generation to the next without notation. That's exactly what happened to me on my father's side of my family. What Ma said was that the music didn't loose much if anything in sound and technique from one generation to the next. He suggested that the same was not true about trained musicians reading notation, as they would interpret, and the music would change over time. He said that old time fiddle music was an insight into the nature and sound of baroque music, as the way of using the bow and such came down in time unchanged.

My mom was a music student and and my dad was an old time fiddler. They were an odd couple in this respect. I took piano lessons and then joined orchestra. At the same time, I was playing these old time songs with my dad which had a direct link back to Scotland through Ellis Island and all of that.

I found it all very interesting as I had both influences in music while I was growing up.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Ice crystals

I did recreational ski racing both days over the weekend. I was 4th fastest both days out of 40 on Saturday and 39 on Sunday. Still a little over 1 second behind the fastest guy. So I skied ok but not great. I did watch the guys faster than me today to get a mental image of what I'm doing wrong.

It was beautiful on the mountain today. It was also very cold. In the afternoon I skied through the trees. What looked like light fog in the sunshine from a distance was actually ice crystals floating in the air. It was so cool as it caught the light in different ways. Click on the photo to make it bigger and see the ice crystals better. Notice the ski tracks behind the tree. That makes it a ski photo. :)

Friday, January 12, 2007

The orbit of a comet

I don't like to talk about work on bicycle log but this had more to do with my state of mind than work. I spent most of the day typsetting in Spanish. I still have more to do but I had to work on something else that was more urgent. The thing is, I don't speak or understand Spanish. I had these print-outs of what I had to type and I have a paper holder thing and I just looked at it and typed it. All day of doing this put me in a different state of mind. It was kind of like a typing tutor. I just typed the letters I saw. I had the translations in English, and I think I actually learned something... I think it takes more words to say something in Spanish than it does in English, as what I typed in Spanish took up more space. Not that that's a bad thing! :)

After doing this all day, I went out of the office to view the comet at sunset. And there it was, low on the horizon to the west. People came out of the office to view it but then went right back inside as it was so cold out. One of the gals stayed out there with me and said, "It must be hundreds of years old." All I could bring myself to say after a brief hesitation was, "Yes it is." Then she started to ask me questions like, "How come we don't see it every year?". So I explained the orbit of the comet and the orbit of the earth. (I know very little about the orbit of anything,) But I said, illustrating with my fingers, "The orbit of the comet goes way out here like this. And the orbit of the earth goes around and around here like this. And every thirty years the orbit of the comet and the orbit of the earth come together like this". "Oh." she said with a blank look on her face.

"And this has gone on for over two hundred years." (Just kidding! I didn't say that! But it was so tempting! :)

I know even less about astronomy than I do Spanish. Gosh it's been a long day.

The photo above is what it looked like when we viewed the comet. I tried to get a photo of the comet and I did but you can't see it unless you really zoom in and it isn't that great. This shows what it looked like outside as we stood there in the cold. The light behind the tree on the left is my office.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

January cyber tree

Here is Miss January Cyber tree. There were several contenders, but she best expressed the high winds of January. She got bent over in the high wind and frozen into place with freezing rain. It wasn't windy when I took this snap.

It was beautiful on the mountain today. A blue bird day in the morning with sun blue sky and no wind. But the slopes were frozen solid. All of the trees were coated in ice from the freezing rain of yesterday. If I put my giant slalom skies on a clean edge I'd be going a million miles an hour in nothing flat, and I don't like to skid my skis if I don't have to even when I'm free skiing. So I went pretty fast all day. And not many people on the mountain. In the afternoon the clouds moved in and the cold air they had predicted moved in. It is supposed to be very cold tonight.

I rode the chair with a guy from Utah. He started talking to me in the parking lot when I got there and followed me to the chair, talking the whole way. The guy never shut up. I could tell you his whole life story. He just lost his job as a med salesman right before Christmas. I felt sorry for him, but I really felt sorry for his wife. He told me about all of the ski resorts in Utah. And he even brought up Cedar City. So I tried to ask him about that, but I coudln't get many words in, and I gave up trying.

I rode up two chairs with him to get to the top of the mountain. At one point he was going on about something and got side tracked. Then he apologized to me for getting sidetracked! I was sitting there not saying a word! I was thinking, Are you crazy?! What do I care what you tell me? I'm not even part of this conversation!
Don't get me wrong he was a nice guy. I just couldn't talk to him. He wouldn't let me.

At the end of the day I was skiing down a trail and saw a guy skiing back to the lodge with cross country skis. So I asked him a few questions about the cross country trails up there. I've never been on them. He was an old guy and really cool and helpful. I really enjoyed talking to him. He must have been from somewhere in Europe at some point as he had a hint of an accent.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

High winds

They are saying that we will have winds up to 60 mph again here tonight. We had them up to 67 mph the other night and it was windy all weekend. I'm getting to the point that I don't notice the wind if it is less than 45 mph. It really bothered me when I first moved here mostly for cycling. Now when I go on tours I hear people complaining about the wind and I'm like "what wind?".

The bad thing now however is that when it gets this windy they close the ski lifts. The chairs start to swing and automatically turn the lift off. Some of those chairs freak me out. Especially the old ones. I was on one with Jane one time and it broke down and we had to be lowered to the ground on a climbing rope. We were on a newer chair so it wasn't way off of the ground. It was far too high to jump however. Now they don't allow chairs to go as high off of the ground as they used to. Some of the old ones are crazy.

As soon as we get the next high pressure system and the sun comes out I'm going skiing for a few days. I'm in 1rst place (out of 4) in my division right now in recreational racing, which doesn't mean a whole lot. I will probably work my way in to the fastest division at some point as I'm right on the cut off of going into it and that's why I'm in 1rst. My times are about 1 second to 1.5 second off of the pace, so I'm right there. Still not sure if I want to do any "real" races.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Bad and good news

First the bad news: My pellet insert that goes in the fireplace in my front room is dead, and they say they can't fix it. It's a drag because I really liked it. Just put some pellets in it and light it and you got a nice little flame and it really heated my whole living area and almost no mess. So for now I'm just going to turn it back into a fireplace. It's way more of a mess though. I'm going to get some glass doors so the sparks don't come out. I also have a wood stove in my basement. I also have electric heat. That's the bad news. Could be worse I guess. I have plenty of wood.

The good news is that I'm going to the U.S. Figure Skating Championships that will be here in Spokane. We did some graphics related to it. I didn't design anything but I did get to work on the project. The little logo on the right represents the Monroe Street Bridge in Spokane that goes over the Spokane River (squiggly blue line). It's kind of the Spokane logo if you will. At least the bridge is. I'm going to the opening ceremony that has the pairs short program and also the championship pairs finals.

It is snowing heavily now and I guess there are lots of accidents on the freeway. I'm probably not going up on the mountain tomorrow as it would be difficult/ dangerous in a storm, Plus they close some of the lifts if it is windy. I will probably try out my new cross country skis on some groomed trails at Farragut State Park in Idaho. About a half hour's drive from my house. Even in a storm I can deal with that for a while. Farragut is a really beautiful place, and it's right outside my back door. (It's well inside my bubble.)


Thursday, January 04, 2007

My cameras

Here is the camera I'm using now. Nikon no longer makes it. Nikon Cool Pix 5700. They have seperated the "cool pix" line from the SLRs. They don't make an SLR with a built in zoom lens like this anymore. I bought it second hand for $300 with a strobe. It sold new for over $700. One of the problem with digital SLRs that have removable lenses is that dust gets on the sensor. I saw this with a guy's Nikon D70. With film, every time you advance the film you get a clean surface. But with a digital camera if you take the lens off then dust can get on the sensor. Olympus came up with an untra-sonic thing that vibrates off the dust before each shot. But if the lens is built in then there is no problem. I'll probably get a new one in a couple of years or if this camera fails. But right now it's doing everything I need it to do. More than I need for work.

I also have a little Nikon point and shoot Cool Pix 5600. It's also a great little camera and I would highly recommend it. You can still get them but they no longer have it in their lineup. It was only $250 and it takes great photos, plus it's tiny. You can't go wrong with a Nikon if you are in the market for a digital camera. I don't think I'd buy any other brand. I have a Fuji SLR digital camera that works good indoors but not so good outside.

NIKON 5600

Introduction to photography

I watched a show on PBS last night about photographer.ANNIE LEIBOVITZ I didn't really know much about her except for what was in Time Magazine last summer, I think it was Time anyway. It just goes to show how out of touch I can be. I used to read Rolling Stone from time to time however. I thought her story was interesting, as she went to school to study painting and ended up doing photography. The program made me think about my own education.

My photography professor was one of the reasons I didn't go into teaching as he was also head of the education department at that time. I think he just taught photography on the side. I don't know what his problem was, but he was less than motivational. I got the impression he hated teaching photography, hated students and hated his job and perhaps himself. He was the kind of person who liked to humiliate students in front of everyone. Just a nasty person.

I ran into problems on the first roll of film I shot. The professor had briefly and sarcasticlly gone over how to load the film tank develop and fix the film and then make a contact sheet. For the next class you had to have done all of that and would be graded. After several days of shooting, my film did not clear when I took it out of the tank to look at it. I had no time to shoot another roll before the class. The only thing that saved me was a call to one of the other guys in the class who had his own darkroom. He saved my butt. We fixed the film again and it cleared. So in that way I avoided public humiliation from the instructor and it saved my grade. I've always remembered that guy's act of kindness.

I did learn to develop and print black and white film and did learn camera basics in that class, but there was nothing beyond that. After that introduction, I had no intention of taking any more photography classes. I continued to pay for access to the darkroom though.

My graduation present from college was a Canon SLR. I borrowed my mom's camera for the class. I never go anywhere without a camera now.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Fruit and vegetables.

I rarely make a New Year's resolution. But I'm going to this year. I need to eat more fruit and vegetables. Thats it.

I spent the three days off skiing. Ran some recreational giant slalom gates each day. I did ok, not great but ok. The backs of my arms are all beat up again from hitting the gates over and over. They make a padded top for this. STEALTH TOP They are expensive but I guess I should get one because I don't think it is healty to do this all the time to my arms. My race suit has padds on the backs of the arms but race suits are flimsy and wear out so I only use it when I race. Plus people just don't wear them much here for working out. What happens is that you go into the gate and kind of turn your shoulder and hip into the gate which is on a spring. But you come at it really fast and it hurts. Here is a photo of the my tricep. I also smashed my left index finger on a gate. It went numb for a while but then it came back to life and it works fine now. It did feel wierd today and won't bend all the way but doesn't really hurt. My arms and elbows hurt though.

Ski racing is a high impact sport. And it's dangerous even at a recreational level. The only way you can be fast is to take at least some chances. I didn't crash, but one of the guys did with everyone looking on. He came out of both of his skis and it looked very bad. He got up and was ok, but that hurts. I've done it more than I want to remember. The next day you can be very sore, even if you don't really get hurt. (go to hospital) This guy is really good. I've never seen him crash. He did watch me crash really bad once. So I'm glad to know he is mortal, and also glad that he didn't get "hurt".

I did get invited to a New Year's Eve party at a guy's condo on the mountain. I wanted to get home and soak in my Jacuzzi tub and also prepair my skis for monday's racing. So I showed up early and thanked them for inviting me and talked for a while but then went home. I had to drive 70 miles. I did have a friend staying with his camper in the RV area and I could have crashed with him. But my Jacuzzi was calling.