High Speed on Ice

The lift to our mood wore off after a few days after returning from our trip to the warm and sunny climes, and I was feeling really ready to be done with winter.  Then last Tuesday we got six inches of snow at home and started leaning into winter.  We decided to do a mini-vacation trip upstate.  It began with a day of skiing at Gore mountain in the Adirondacks.  Jeannie and I drove up the night before and stayed in a hotel in Lake George.  On the drive up we listened to the Queen album Live Killers, which I don’t think I ever listened to the whole way thru before, and is totally amazing.  Unfortunately, the weather turned snowy and slippery the further north we got, so I couldn’t listen as closely as I’d have liked.

It was an amazing day of skiing.  The morning was just perfect, with fresh snow on a well-groomed base, and a gentle snow falling on off throughout the day.  Probably some of the best skiing I’ve had in years.  And because it was a Friday, the mountain was alot less crowded than last time we were there.  We skied the first half of the day on the North Slope, with long beautiful trails winding thru the trees.  Unfortunately, it began to get windy, and some trip up the lift were a little unpleasant.  We skied all the way down to the base then went up to the summit via the gondola, another trail and another lift.  The top was kinda windy and icy, but once we got partway down the skiing was great again.  We ended up the day on another part of the mountain with mainly blue and green trails, because we were getting too tired for the big hills but wanted to keep on going.  Jeannie had a ski tracking app, and we skied over 10 miles in 12 runs, meaning the average run was close to a mile, and some a good deal longer.

That night we drove up to the high peaks area to visit our good friends Mark and Kelly. Saturday we went ice staking in the speed skating oval at the Olympic Village in Lake Placid.  It was a beautiful experience, skating outdoors surrounded by mountains.  The track is a quarter mile around, and Jeannie did 14 laps and I did 18.  That’s three-and-a-half and four-and-a-half miles respectively.  Needless to say, after all this our legs were pretty tired.  Afterwards we went to a bar for poutine and cocktails, then walked around Lake Placid.  Out on Mirror lake, there was tobogganing, dogsleds, ice skating and several hockey games going on.  Fun scene. 

Spent alot of time just talking and hanging out.  Mark showed me his new guitar effects setup, but didn’t get around to playing it.  On the way home Sunday, we stopped by Martin’s house for a visit.  Spent our time there just talking and hanging out too.  Martin showed me his new custom-made combination guitar/sax/sheet music/stage monitor stand.  Got home late last night, and today we were all tired out.  Now back to work, but hoping to get a couple more ski trips in before the end of the winter.

Work and Playa

Been trying to get thru the winter.  The snow we had earlier all melted and it reverted to grey and gloomy.  In the years we’ve had solar power, we never generated less electricity than this last January, and it was an extra long month, with five Mondays.  At least we’re supposed to get snow again tonight, so hopefully that means more skiing soon.

The last week of January I went into the city several times for work.  One day it was a field trip to the Spy Museum in Manhattan, which was fun and somewhat germane to our group, as there was cool exhibits on cryptography, the early development of computers, and various modern privacy and security issues.  Plus a James Bond car!  Afterwards we went out a bar to say goodbye to our colleague Chris who is leaving us to work on privacy at Google.  In the conversation I learned that ten out of twelve people care and know more about Star Wars than the Roman Empire.  Strange times we live in.  The next day was an all-day planning, strategy and team-building session in a space down near Union Square.  Lots of fun but exhausting by the end.  

Then on Saturday Jeannie and I took off for a winter getaway down to Cancún, Mexico.  Compared to the last few trips we’ve taken, this one was pretty mellow, and mainly involved a circuit between the beach, the bar, the pool and various restaurants.  We stayed at a resort hotel right on the beach, in a place called the Hotel Zone.  They upgraded our room, a mini-suite with a little sitting area looking out over ocean, to one on the corner so the view was more than 180 degrees.  We ended up ordering breakfast in the room most every day so we could enjoy it.  The middle day of the trip we took a tour to Chichén Itzá, former site of an ancient Mayan city and now home to a complex of ruins that include the famous stepped pyramid, one of the seven wonders of the world.  Also, I must say we’ve now had ten flights in the last year and half, free of any hassles, delays or complications.  The more our luck holds, the more my general anxiety about airports and flying is reduced.  

On the plane I read a book called The Swerve, which was about a particular book from ancient Rome, and the circumstances under which it was written, lost, rediscovered in the 14th century, copied and entered a place of influence in Renaissance thought and subsequently into the modern, scientific age.  The book, On the Nature of Things, was an epic poem that espoused a worldview of rationalism, apathetic gods, mind-body unity, the goal of seeking pleasure in life rather than suffering, atomic theory, evolution by natural selection, and a bunch of other ideas heretical to the medieval church.  Sounds like the kind of thing Neil Peart might have written, but in Latin

This is actually the third book I’ve read this year that cuts thru the Renaissance.  The first one focused mainly on art and architecture, and masters of the era in that realm, particularly in Florence and Rome.  The second one was about Columbus, Cabot and Vespucci, the circumstances that gave rise to their epic voyages of discovery, and their immediate consequences in the new world and the old.  All of these stories are connected, and it’s interesting too see how different writers pull together threads from all the things going on to craft a journey about a specific thing.  Next I want to find a book on the Copernican revolution and its antecedents.  In the explorers book, there was a bit on Vespucci crossing the equator and naming the constellation the Southern Cross.  The North Star had disappeared, and the sky was spinning the opposite way.  It must have been a mind-blowing realization that the Earth was indeed a sphere, and not just that but a sphere floating in space.  As a complement to all this, I’ve also been reading the Discworld series.  I can’t believe it took me all these years to get turned on it it.  Great fun!

One night at the resort, the Freddy Mercury biopic movie was on TV.  Since I’ve been home I’ve been doing a deep dive into Queen’s music.  They’re a band I’ve always admired, and I own three of their albums, but they have quite a few I’ve never listened to the whole way thru.  It’s just amazing the depth of their talent.  Freddy Mercury was a great rock piano player, and Brian May and Roger Taylor were great singers, in addition to being widely regard as among the greatest of all time at their main role in the group. Everyone in the band was a great songwriter and they all played multiple instruments.  They wrote and played in so many styles, yet pulled it all together into a unified sound.  Plus, they really pushed the expressive limits of what you could do with the electronics and studio technology of the day.  Every album is very solid, really imaginative and enjoyable, and contains at least one or two all-time smash hits.  I’ve gotten up to News of the World, which is about the midpoint of their discography.