Thursday, February 01, 2001

Skiing, again

I had a theory. Since the Super Bowl would be on the following Sunday, not many people would be on the slopes. We could go skiing during the day, and I could tape the game. Avoiding any contamination, I would head home and watch the game on tape.

How did the theory work out? Pretty well, I think. I'm not really clear on how crowded ski resorts generally are, but Ski Liberty didn't seem too bad. Especially by the evening, when even the guys whose job it was to make sure people took turns getting in line had slipped away. But that was OK, since the line was short enough that there weren't enough people to have to take turns.

I started out the day by taking my second lesson. I was in level 2, which was for those of us who were "not very confident turning". Since level 1 was for first-time skiiers, I figured I had to be set for level 2. So we took the lift to the top of the mountain, where the instructors had us demonstrate our turning to separate us by ability level. Hello! I thought we had already established that we weren't good at turning. But I established it some more, so I ended up in the worst 3 instead of the better 6.

Which was fine. 'Cause I got more individual instruction. Oh, yeah, and I really was worse than most of the people. I realized that my previous lesson had taught how to turn but not when, why or how much to turn. And then the 3 people in the class could all ride up on the same quad lift chair with our instructor and chat. Oh, yeah, and then the other 2 in the class weren't as good as me, so I felt good by comparison.

But I learned how to turn enough that my instructor pronounced me ready for a level 3 lesson next time. So it was time to head for Sneaky Pete (here's a guide to the trails.) After a few runs down that, the hardest part was getting off the lift, and it was on to Dipsy Doodle.

I don't know about you, but I don't think a trail called Dipsy Doodle should have a 90o turn on the steepest part of the trail. I basically stumbled down that, but it was cool doing one run from the top of the mountain. I'd like another lesson under my belt before trying that part again, though. But at the bottom, and on another Sneaky Pete run, I was just flying down the mountain, zipping around. It was a heck of a lot of fun. The "First Class Area" bunny slopes were pretty darn easy by that point, but it was fun to go back and do them without having to slow down as much as I did at the beginning of the day.

Oh, and the Super Bowl? I'm glad I was able to fast forward through all the parts between plays. I hid my eyes from the TV playing at the resort, and was surprised by the outcome...well, as surprised as everyone who had seen the Ravens dominate the whole thing.

Tuesday, January 30, 2001


Another thing that has been occupying my time is my newly acquired hobby of skiing.

Well, actually I did attempt one other ski trip, back in '94. My friend Ben, who has been skiing since birth, kept encouraging me to go skiing with him some time. With his vast experience, he'd be able to show me how to ski. So a group of us planned a trip to Seven Springs. Unfortunately, due to an illness in the family, Ben had to drop out at the last moment. Not to worry, he assured me, I could just learn from the guys who were going.

So I rented my skis, and while we were going up the lift, I asked my friends for some pointers on skiing. Skiing? No, they only knew how to snowboard. Oops. So I went down the mountain -- once. Ski, pick up speed, fall. Ski, pick up speed, fall. Ski, pick up speed, fall. Ski, pick up speed, fall. Ski, pick up speed, fall. Ski, pick up speed, fall. Ski, pick up speed, fall. Ski, pick up speed, fall. Oh sure, the repetition may be annoying you, but at least you're not falling over constantly. I got to the bottom, turned in my skis, and put off the sport of skiing for a while.

Well, the weekend before last, I took it up again. We went to Whitetail. This time I took a lesson. And it made all the difference in the world. I had a certain amount of fear based on my experiences trying to learn how to do other things involving coordination -- like rollerblading. If I tried to learn with a bunch of people, almost everyone else would get the hang of it quicker. The instructor would say, "Do A. OK, now that you've mastered A, here's how you do B. And C. Now try D." Meanwhile, I'm stumbling along trying to figure out A. As a result, I was very nervous right before the class started.

I needn't have worried. I don't know where on Planet Clumsy they found my fellow beginning skiiers, but boy did they make me feel better by comparison. Half an hour into the lesson, we were ready to practice going downhill. A little. We would walk up the hill for a minute, then ski the distance we had just covered. Simple enough. I found myself picking up more speed than I'd like, but I'd turn at the bottom and slow to a stop. Not my classmates. They were constantly falling down, running into each other... After an hour or so of this routine, it was time to inflict them on the rest of the slope via the lift.

After riding up, the instructor gave us coupons for hot chocolate and a $29 return visit. He was doing that, he said, in case we got separated on the slope. After skiing down a little bit, a group of us waited for the rest to catch up. We noticed the instructor heading back up to help someone who had fallen and couldn't figure out how to stand up again. Someone said, "Can we just go? It's not like he can stop us." So we went.

I had fun. If you look at the trail map, I only skiied the two tiny ones on the far left. But I had fun. And I only fell once, getting off the lift. And I knocked over some orange cones. Woo hoo! It was so much fun that I wanted to go back the next weekend...

Sunday, January 28, 2001

The Sims

I realize I haven't updated this in quite some time. What have I been up to? A number of things, but one of them is The Sims. The Sims is a computer game that simulates, uh, real life. Why playing around with an imaginary character, getting him to work, to eat and to sleep is more interesting than doing the same in my life remains a mystery. Nevertheless, I want to share with you some fine moments from the life of Fred Grantham, my alter ego.

Here, Fred practices his big speech...

And here, he goes for a little late-night indulgence of his artistic side...

Finally, here's a picture of the Sim-Grantham house...