Category Archives: Weather

Frame of Mind


Today’s Music: Vampire Weekend – Holiday

I’ve been posting very little lately. I’d like to put up a couple a week, plus the Friday Foolishness, but lately I just haven’t had the time.
The company I work for was bought, then bought again. At some point before the end of the calendar year, we’ll be moving from our offices to theirs (downtown to midtown).
I’ve gone through this before – the last company I worked for was also bought several times, with all the attendant layoffs, confusion and identity crises that go with it.
I’m not worried about getting laid off. For one thing, I show up and do my job without playing office politics. For another, I work on computers, and I’m not bad at it. There are jobs available (in New York) in my field, even if it does mean working for a financial company (not my first choice, but hey, gotta eat).

My personal life has also been a bit one-tracked lately. A relative is in the hospital with a serious issue. Stable now, although it was a bit touch and go for a while. She’s doing better now, but every day after work, I trek all the way from the southern tip of Manhattan to the northern end to visit for a while. Then my girl and I go home. (Yeah, The Most Wonderful Girl In The Universe comes with me every day. Just further evidence of her wonderfulissitude.)
Weekends are for sleeping, chores (I’m looking at you, ironing board), cooking a couple of meals so we have what to bring for lunch, and more hospital visits.

It’s tiring. Exhausting really, both physically and mentally. A long day, riding crowded trains, worrying about someone else’s health and well being, as well as the usual stresses – what small fires will need to be put out at the office, riding crowded trains, trying to be supportive and encouraging to those that need at it.
A grueling schedule.

Enough to make me forget who I am.

So in my web wanderings, I saw a new post from a site I look forward to new posts from. And spent a few minutes looking at the pictures.

We’ve all heard the phrase “go to your happy place”. Many of us snarkier folk have used that phrase sarcastically or mockingly. I have as well.
But there’s truth in that phrase.

I’ve written before about my own talismans. Lately, they keep me grounded and remind me of potential and what can be.Their reassuring weight gets me through the day.
But the pictures on that site reminded me of something I love – myh own happy place.
For me, the image of a palm tree brings with it the feel of warm sun, the smell of salt air, the sound of lapping waves and the rustling of a cool ocean breeze.
And it brings peace.

The memory is alone is enough…for me…to slow…down…

And that pause is enough to get me to take a deep breath and change my frame of mind to a more settled and relaxed one, where I can actually process what’s going on and deal with it.
If it were winter, I’d wear my boat shoes and a Hawaiian shirt to get there.
But since it’s hot and muggy in NYC, this is an excellent way instead.
And nothing i have to explain to anyone either…

So, if, in your travels today, you see a guy with a half smile on his face, his eyes focused on something way way in the distance, don’t be concerned.
I’m just gonna hang out there a few more minutes, and then I’ll be back.

And in a much better frame of mind too.

I think I feel good about that.

Thanks so much for the pics, LizzieC! I’d forgotten how pretty the palms are.

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An Adventure – Learning to Ski


Today’s Music: Tori Amos

So, here we are, in the ongoing series of “Learning to” Adventures posts.

Some of my best skiing days have happened when I was hung over. I don’t recommend that condition for actually learning to ski though.

This picture isn't me, but could have been. Many times.

Skiing (from Urban Dictionary): somethin a person does in the wintertime to convince oneself that he or she is actually enjoying the 10 degree weather.

The first thing is to get the right clothes.
The first time I went, I wore jeans. And fell a lot. All the dye in the denim seeped right through the top 20 layers of my skin, and I had blue legs through February.

Second thing is have a sense of humor.
You’re going to fall. No way around it. If you can laugh about it, you’ll be able to get back up and learn to stay up that much faster, thereby freeing yourself to laugh at the poor bastard behind you who just did a fantastic slow-mo windmilling flop. While not moving.

Third thing is to get a teacher.
By teacher I mean not just someone who knows how to ski, but someone who can teach it.

Let me explain.
So one winter, Ronnie and Meat decided I should learn how to ski. Sure, why not.
We trundled up to the mountain, and I got my rental gear and lift ticket, and we headed up the mountain. To the top.

Much scarier with planks strapped to your feet. And no idea what you're doing.

This was the lesson, as explained to me by Meat: Ronnie’ll go first and show you what to do. I’ll go behind you to pick up your stuff (see top pic) and tell you what you did wrong.

One thing I learned about cold mountain air – it clears hangovers fast. Well, that and terror.

For those of you have never been to Hunter Mountain, the main skiing face faces east. That means it is softened by the morning sun. Which means?
Exactly. When the sun crests and begins to set in the west, the east face freezes back up. Into sheet ice.

People out west mock the east coast snow. And justifiably, because their’s is much softer and fluffier.
But lemme tell you, if you can ski the east (especially someplace like Hunter), you can ski anywhere.

Back to the lesson.

The fourth thing is to Zip. Up. Your. Jacket. All the way.
We’ve already established that you will fall. At some point, you will probably Yard Sale (again, see top pic).
That’s where both your skis come off and shoot in opposite directions, your poles bounce off to God-knows-where, your hat is half buried in the snow behind you, a glove may have come off, and your lungs are twice their normal size from all the snow forced down your throat as you belly surfed down the hill.
Zipping your jacket will keep at least one square yard of snow off your chest.

Having fun yet?

Looks ridiculous, but it does work.

Good. Because it isn’t all horror. By the end of the day, I was able to use my modified snowplow to zig-zag down the mountain in one piece. I was skiing!

Meat and Ronnie gave me my first lessons in skiing parallel too (as opposed to snowplow), and this gave me (barely) enough control and (way too much) speed to be able to zip down the mountain making some truly…unique maneuvers.
I had so much fun, I eventually forgave them for their wtf teaching method.

Once I could ski at a level near theirs, we needed to add some tricks,
like the Daffy, and the Backscratcher

I've done this! And landed well!

I've done this! The landing was hilarious. And painful.

Now, my wife (the most wonderful girl in the universe) and I try and go skiing at least once a year. I taught her the basics, and she very wisely (and relationship savingly) decided to take a real lesson. She gets better every year. And so do I.

Looking back over this, I think the most important part of learning to ski is to do it because it’s fun, and you want to enjoy it.
Otherwise, you’ll end up with blue legs, or a belly full of ice, or a broken rib (that one really sucked, but I skied the rest of the day anyway), and no big stupid grin to show for it.

Bought these after I knew how to use them. They were great, but their time has passed...

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go see what lift tickets will be this season, and try on my ski hat…

Yes, I do wear it in public. Sometimes, I even wear it to work.

An Adventure – Learning to Sail


Today’s Music: Jimmy Buffett

WHEEEEE!!!!!!

In a June, quite some time ago, Ms. Diamond needed to get certified as a Life Guard.
So, one day in the cafeteria, she dropped the brochure for the place she was going for the lifeguard course on the table.
Being a nosy S.O.B. (though it’s possible sh offered it to me – not sure – been a lot of drinking between then an now), I looked through it.
Sailing! Learn to sail on a lake in Pennsylvania! One person Sunfish! Oh.My. God.

At the time, I was listening to way too much Jimmy Buffett. Parrothead, (mostly) recovered, that’s me.
One of the things Jimmy sings an awful lot about (besides drinking, and women, and food and islands and…) is sailing.
And here was an opportunity to learn it on the cheap!

So I went. My sisters came along to learn to Scuba Dive (in the same lake), but I was there for the sailing.

The first day, it poured. So they brought the sailing group (there was sailing, lifeguarding, scuba, and a bunch of other classes being taught that week) into a cabin. The instructors told us about themselves, told us about the boats we’d be using, and asked us what we wanted to get out of the class, and to draw a picture of it.
I wrote Sail like Magellan. The picture I drew wasn’t quite as bad as this, but lord, it wasn’t good:

Not even Magellan could keep this afloat.

Fortunately, making us artists wasn’t the point of the course. Making us sailors was.
They taught us how to put together a sunfish and take it apart. How to step the mast (insert it in it’s slot so it wouldn’t leave the boat when the sail was filled with wind), how to run the lines (ropes on a boat are called lines), how to tell where the wind was coming from and how to trim the boat (adjust sails and heading (direction) for the wind).
They taught us about the hardware on the boat – the stays and guys, tiller and running rigging, and how all of them held the boat together and made it go.
They taught us witty sailor sayings – “red sky at night, sailors delight, red sky at dawn, storm coming on”, “tiller to boom to avoid doom”, “rain before wind, better stay in. Wind before rain, soon set sail again”.
All phrases that I’ve found useful even in my daily landlubber-ous existence.

And they taught us how to sail.
Picture 5 newbies, each in our own boat, trying to sail in formation. Okay, we managed to get more or less to the same part of the lake, more or less at the same time. But when they told us to sail in close formation, we all managed to get in exactly the same part of the lake at exactly the same time. And had a massive pile up.
I think that was the first time I fell out of my boat, avoiding the nose of another that parked itself on top of me.

But slowly we learned. We understood the points of sail, learned how to trim a sail to take the most advantage of the wind. How to get out of irons, or steer for a buoy.
And we learned to not crash into each other. Unless we really wanted to.

On the last day, we were allowed to sail around on our own. When time was up, I steered in, coming up to the dock neatly against the wind. I put my hands on the dock – to hoist myself out of the boat – my feet still in it.
And the boat, which wasn’t tied down, started to drift…away…from the dock…

Which was the last time I fell in.

I’m sorry I couldn’t find it, because i really wanted to scan and post my Upside Down Award, for falling creatively out of boats. I earned it, dangnabbit.

And before you leave the post chuckling at how i wasted a week, several years later I was invited to crew on the Around Long Island Regatta on a boat something like this:

Image from Charterworld.com

I got here from a Sunfish.

Cut it out, Canada.


Today’s Music: Oh, Canada

I like Canada. A lot.
I’ve been there several times, most recently to see The Cars at Sound Academy in Toronto.
I’ve loved seeing the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Parliament in Ottawa.
I loved hanging out with Charles DeLint at the bar he plays at weekly. He invited me up onstage, and lent me a guitar so we could rip through a twelve bar blues riff with his band.
He took us out for lunch after we spent the day exploring the Byward market, a really nice indoor/outdoor shopping area filled with the products of local craftsmen and street musicians.
My wife (the most wonderful girl in the universe) and I spent a lovely afternoon strolling through the Ottawa government seat, and walking along the Rideau river.

Manhattan at noon, 29 October

I’ve skied at Tremblant and loved, and have nothing but nice things to say about Montreal.

More recently, I’ve enjoyed the tulip festival. They really are beautiful. The way you arrange them shows why you elevated the festival to a national event.
My wife and I loved your museums, and admired the clean orderliness of your street.

Brooklyn, 20 minutes after Manhattan

And on the same trip when we went to see The Cars, we also stopped at Niagara Falls. It’s true, the view is better from the Canadian side.
So all the times I’ve been to Canada, I’ve had nothing but fun.

Queens, 35 mjinutes after Brooklyn

But you have a dark secret.
Any architect building a freestanding home in an open area will tell you, build the hedges along the north.
During winter, the cold air comes down from the north. That’s how the jet stream works.
And what’s north of New York?
Canada.
That;s right. I said it.
Canada is sending us the snow.
I like snow. I like sledding, skiing, sitting on the porch watching it build up. I like driving in fields through it, catching it on my tongue, and making naked snow angels in it. Ok, that was once, and i was really drunk at the time. But I enjoyed it.

But now you’ve gone too far. It’s October. There are another 60 or so days of fall. Which I can’t enjoy. Because it’s snowing.
The snow Canada sent.

Look, I admit it, the U.S. can be mean to Canada. We ignore you, we run roughshod over your entertainment industry by selling you our music/tv/movies. And I know you have to pay more for those same books and dvds we insist on sending you.
But I’m begging you, please, turn off the snow.
I gave your anthem the “Today’s Music” slot.
I like real maple syrup.
I’ll even admit (under duress) that I own a Bryan Adams cd (it was a long time ago and I’ve no idea where it is anymore.)

So stop with the snow already. At least for another month or two.

The view out my window 15 minutes later.

Or we’ll send back William Shatner.