Archive for January, 2008

Apocalypto

Almost four decades ago, in a law course for a graduate program, the instructor, a world weary, old-time Philadelphia lawyer, offered a though that as we approached the final quarter of the twentieth-century, a century marked by rapid social, economic and technological change, we were attempting to operate in this new and changing environment using institutions that reached reached their apogee in the late eighteenth-century. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he announced, “it simply will not work.”

This pronouncement was made before personal computers, before the internet or blackberries, cell phones, before Walmart, Enron, globalization or subprime lending. It was a time when a foreign car usually meant a VW Beetle, when China exported nothing and Europe was still separated by an Iron Curtain. Continue reading ‘Apocalypto’

Snowboarding

There is nothing remotely like standing atop a snowboard and steering down a snow-covered mountainside at a high rate of speed. The word exhilaration probably comes closest, but even given that, it fails to convey anything like the experience itself. Let me try.

Getting off the Stratton gondola at the summit of the mountain, I walk the forty or so yards out onto the snow-covered surface carrying my board. A weak sun lights the scene and the cold bites on my exposed face. I find a spot and drop my board to the snow. All around me skiers and boarders are getting themselves ready for their descent. First my right boot, the front foot is locked into the binding, the runaway strap attached to my bootlace. Then the back foot is snapped in and the board jumped around or pivoted into the fall line and I am moving. A short run, maybe thirty or forty feet in a straight line and then a reflexed right turn and I am running.

Crouched and swinging the board beneath me from edge to edge, I am in charge, picking the spots on the downside faces of the surfaces rushing toward me. My speed picks up and I begin making more pronounced turns, moving across the fall line and engaging my edges to brake my acceleration. Continue reading ‘Snowboarding’

Back to the Dark Side

Home after four days at Stratton. I started off well enough, spending the first day boarding. It was on the second day that I fell into sin. I hadn’t skied in years, and this year for my seventieth birthday, my son presented me with a set of Head Liquid Metal, short, 163cm. parabolic skis. So it really wasn’t my fault.

Subjecting myself once again to the torture of hard-shell ski boots, I snapped into the new skis, riding a quad to the top of a Blue cruiser. A shaky start. these buggers are fast, very fast. As advertised, the new, shaped skis turn without effort, but the reduced edge length puts less metal on the snow surface. When you edge to control your speed coming out of a turn, it’s as if nothing really happens. I found myself zooming at frightening speeds before regaining control. My last outing on skis had been on straight, 185cm. The new skis were rather like moving from a Buick Regal to a Honda CBR 600.

My second day on skis was at Okemo, again staying on the Blues. However, with temperatures in the low teens and howling winds scouring the snow off the exposed surfaces, I was skiing on hard-pack boilerplate. To my surprise, the new skis performed better than I remember any in my over forty years of doing this stuff.

After two days on the skis, I snuck back to the cool side, to boarding. Whether it was the change of pace or what, my riding on after two days of skiing was about the best I’ve ever experienced. I felt on top of my game, pulling out the stops and going until something like adrenaline depletion forced me to call it a day. Can’t wait to get back out. It will be a tough decision; ski, board, ski, board? Stay tuned.

Happy New Year!

2008! Holy shit! How can this be? I can remember walking up Levick Street on a cold, overcast morning to go to mass at St. Timothy’s Church on New Year’s Day, 1944. That means that I am at least sixty-four years old. Well it’s even worse than that, try seventy years old. Again, all that can be said is “Holy shit!”