The regression of thought

The Georgia Department of Education proposed updates to its Science curriculum that will remove the word “evolution”. “Biological changes over time” is its replacement. My initial reaction was to scream and laugh at them. Just more religious crazies taking over the school system, I thought. I choose to think for myself, so I dove into the articles to get the real story. Headlines aren’t a good source of news.

I discovered that the change is misguided. On the surface, I don’t think it’s diabolical. In her response to the chaos, Georgia Schools Superintendent Kathy Cox had this to say:

Why, then, is the word itself not used in the draft of the curriculum, when the concepts are there? The unfortunate truth is that “evolution” has become a controversial buzzword that could prevent some from reading the proposed biology curriculum comprehensive document with multiple scientific models woven throughout. We don’t want the public or our students to get stuck on a word when the curriculum actually includes the most widely accepted theories for biology. Ironically, people have become upset about the exclusion of the word again, without having read the document.

That clarifies Georgia’s thought process, but it fails to address the fundamental flaw in this debate. These quotes from an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article explain what Superintendent Cox is fighting:

Terrie Kielborn, a middle school science teacher in Paulding County who was on the committee, recalled that Stephen Pruitt, the state’s curriculum specialist for science, told the panel not to include the word evolution.

“We were pretty much told not to put it in there,” Kielborn said. The rationale was community reaction, she said.

“When you say the word evolution, people automatically, whatever age they are, think of the man-monkey thing,” Kielborn said.

I don’t automatically think of “the man-monkey thing”. The purpose of education is to teach children to think. Teaching facts is just the foundation for that. When we take away the words because we fear the implication of those words, education suffers. I could say more, but this next quote shows my thoughts:

The word “evolution” itself is important because it is a scientific term, said Sarah Pallas, an associate professor of biology at Georgia State University. “Students need to know the language of science,” she said. “They don’t need to know euphemisms. It’s just silly.”

That’s the same point with any curriculum in education. Kids are smart. We should not dumb them down because we’re scared of the questions they might ask.

In my journey through this issue, I reviewed the Georgia Department of Education’s “Examples of Evolutionary Concepts in the Proposed Biology Curriculum”. Regardless of theology or issues with the word, pretending that the word “evolution” isn’t used by scientists puts the children of Georgia at an unnecessary disadvantage. The word “evolution” should be in the curriculum.

The English in the document did concern me, though. From the second Benchmark, I present this disaster (emphasis added):

There are historical scientific models of change, such as those of Lamarck, Malthus, Wallace, Buffon, and Darwin. Evidence from fossil, molecular biology, and anatomical structures suggest relationships among organisms. As climatic conditions change, organisms that do not adapt die off; those organisms suitably adapted survive. Over time, the proportion of individuals that have advantageous characteristics will increase. Heritable characteristics can be observed at molecular and whole-organism levels…

The sentence structure of the italicized sentence is awful. I had to read it several times to figure out its meaning. Also, the word “individual” is inappropriate in the paragraph. The paragraph is explaining the evolution of organisms, in any form. If it said “individual organisms”, that would be passable. Saying “organisms” instead of “individuals” would be correct.

That concludes my introduction to the debate. Discuss amongst yourselves.

A swift kick in the head is free

I despise the Pittsburgh Pirates.

One of the many wonderful gifts that baseball has given us is the beauty of a definitive winner and loser. Unlike football and hockey, baseball games don’t end in a tie. Unless the team is managed by Lloyd McClendon. If it is, it’s acceptable to use all of your team’s pitchers, then take your team home before the game is over. Who cares about the fan (me) who paid money ($$) to see a full game (a winner and a loser)? Not Lloyd.

Today, I continue to despise the Pirates. I ordered three tickets to a Spring Training game. The tickets were $6, so $18 for the three. Then they added a $2.75 convenience fee to each ticket, adding another $8.25. There is something wrong with a convenience fee that adds 45.83% to the cost of each ticket.

Because I need these tickets for my annual Spring Training trip in March, I continued the purchase. Then I got to the ticketing options.

The first choice was mail delivery for $2.50. The second choice was leaving the tickets at Will Call for $2.50. The third choice was – Wait a minute. They charged me $2.50 to leave the tickets at Will Call? Why is there a $2.50 charge for them to print the tickets the morning of the game and hold them at the ticket window? That’s wrong. When I get there, I think I’ll just give them my wallet and let them give me back what they think I deserve.

Anyone that hears me chanting in a Boston accent that day, I won’t be rooting for the Red Sox; I’ll be rooting against the Pirates.

P.S. I will write about my Spring Training trip in March, so anticipate it until then. Go Phillies!

Reboot your sense of humor

David Bradley, the IBM engineer who wrote the code for Ctrl+Alt+Delete, is retiring. That’s momentous, I guess, but that’s not the real focus here. Reading the article, I laughed at this:

At a 20-year celebration for the IBM PC, Bradley was on a panel with Microsoft founder Bill Gates and other tech icons. The discussion turned to the keys.

“I may have invented it, but Bill made it famous,” Bradley said.

Gates didn’t laugh.

Gates should’ve laughed because that’s hysterical.

The new math

Reading a review of last night’s American Idol, I discovered this gem:

He wowed them with a soulful Desperado, though, prompting Randy’s four-word assessment: “See you in Hollywood, dude.”

“See” is number one. “You” is number two. “In” is number three. “Hollywood” is number four. “Dude” is number what?

I like USA Today. I applaud that it’s written for a 6th-grade level because that encourages more people to read it. It’s the best newspaper for presenting a broad range of news stories with minimal slant. But it shouldn’t be written by imbeciles.

I suppose “dude” is number threEve.

Skiing (Part Three) – How am I supposed to live through this?

Walking past the line for the Candy Cane J-Bar, I was nervous. I felt my training was incomplete, but could do nothing to stop it. Sure, I could’ve protested, but then the mockery would’ve started. I can handle death easier.

The chair lift entrance for Holly resides less than 30 yards from the bottom of Candy Cane, but it’s on a slight incline. We pulled ourselves up the incline by digging our poles into the snow and shuffling our skis forward. “I didn’t know there’d be cross-country skiing,” I said to Danielle. She reassured me that I would do well, but I feared the misadventure ahead.

Standing in line, I focused on the chair lifts swinging around for the journey up the mountain. We had a few moments, but the time was coming. I’d been scared on Candy Cane. I began to fathom the panic that would course through my mind at the summit of Snow Ball.

I observed the chair swinging around to pick up each pair or skiers. Once it cleared the entrance, the next pair started forward to the loading spot. Our turn to trek our way to the chair arrived. Believing myself on the verge of getting clipped, I followed Danielle into the path of the oncoming chair. With Danielle standing to my left, the chair reached us and gently buckled us onto the cold cushions. I had no way out.

Looking around at the mountain below, a heavy metal bar attacked me. Scared, I looked over at Danielle, only to find that she was lowering the safety bar to prevent us from falling out. “Oooooooooh. That’s a good idea,” I thought. As we continued our ascent upward, I noticed all the happy people skiing down the slope. Seeing the young kids gliding over the snow, I believed it might be possible to survive this. I might even figure out how to ski.

The chair lift was longer than I had expected. I enjoyed the respite from the inevitable until I remembered that the length of mountain up and down were the same. I knew that when I turned my skis down the slope, the journey down would be as fast as the journey up was slow.

Trying to focus me, Danielle explained the process of stepping off the chair lift at the end. “Stick your legs, parallel to the ground. You want your skis pointing down. If you don’t, you won’t be able to get off, but your skis will come off. You will ride down to the bottom without your skis, the only person riding down. You don’t want to be that guy.” No, I didn’t.

We neared the end, so Danielle raised the safety bar over our heads. I did as instructed and stuck my skis out, perpendicular to the ground. At that moment, I understood something I hadn’t before. Skis and ski boots are heavy. If I moved wrong before the platform, I was going down fast. I paid attention to the task and didn’t move until we reached the platform.

I expected someone to greet us and help us out. They assume that we’re all experts at this, so we don’t need help. What kind of moron would ride to the top of a mountain that he didn’t know how to ski down? I noticed the people in front of us put their skis on the platform, stand up, and ski away as the chair lift let them off and turned away. Now that I knew how to do it, it was time to do it.

I put my skis onto the snowy wood as the chair leaned us forward. I stood up and looked ahead to where I had to go. I positioned my poles beside me for balance. The chair turned away as I came to the edge of the ramp. My mind froze.

“There’s not supposed to be a ramp here.”

“I fell down while walking; I can’t ski a ramp.”

“This is wrong.”

“They shouldn’t have done this to me.”

All of these thoughts were valid at the time, but little help. Gravity refused to wait for my mind to catch up. Thus, instead of skiing gracefully from the chair lift to a stop by the map, I did an awkward dismount and fell on my ass. I’m confident that I scored a 2.8 from the Lithuanian judge.

I laughed at myself and put my head on the snow. Danielle looked back at the tangle of legs and skis and poles. She laughed as she skied over to help me up. Even though I was motionless at the bottom of the ramp, it was still an active runway. I’m confident that the snowboarder who fell behind me fell only because I was in the way. She dragged me to my feet. While I gathered myself, brushing snow off and shaking my clothes into place, Danielle moved over to look at the map. We were at the convergence of Holly, Mistletoe, and the South Shuttle.

Here’s the map I showed in part one:

I hadn’t looked at this before we reached the summit. Any fool can see that the only way to Snow Ball from the Central slope is to ski down Twinkle and ride the South chair lift to the top. Ignoring that, it was so far away. This was a giant mistake. Didn’t Danielle know that she’d have a long, hard journey dragging my mangled corpse back to the First Aid station after I tumbled down Snow Ball like a snowball?

Her plan was simple, so I followed her to the South Shuttle. Sadly, I learned that this wasn’t a shuttle, but a path I had to ski. I hate misnomers. A few yards past the map, we approached a hill. It wasn’t large, but I could tell that I would pick up speed. I was concerned.

I still hadn’t dealt with anything in a “straight-ahead, actually ski the slope” manner. I determined that I’d survive it, but I wasn’t ready to pick up too much speed. I skied it the same way I’d skied the bunny hill; knees in, feet out, brain furiously engaged. Following along the right edge, I made it down.

There should’ve been a sign that indicated the speed generated by the little slope was useful. I didn’t have enough to continue up the slight incline that followed. A lesson learned the hard way, but duly noted.

Since I’d stopped from lack of inertia, I figured I’d give the goggles a try. Since I’d never been skiing, I borrowed my brother’s ski gloves and goggles. The gloves were perfect. Even after nearly three hours on the slopes (and several spills), my hands were still dry and warm. Then I put the goggles on.

They immediately fogged up. I couldn’t believe it. I prayed that I could wipe them clean so they’d stay clear. This didn’t work. Inspecting them, I found two holes on each side for venting. Eureka! Like my motorcycle helmet, they would unfog once I started moving and air flowed through them.

In theory that should’ve worked. Alas, it didn’t. As I moved forward, they stayed covered, so I was blind while wearing them. I stopped again, which wasn’t hard given the incline-induced lack of momentum. At this point, I began cursing my brother’s name. At the time, I joked at how rude that was since he’d loaned me the excellent gloves.

Then I returned home and discussed it with him, which went like this:

Me: “Thanks for lending me your gloves. The goggles sucked.”
Brother (while I type about them being fogged up): “They fogged up, didn’t they?”
Me: “Thanks, you could’ve told me that BEFORE I was stranded on top of the mountain without sufficient eyewear.”
Brother: “HAHAHAHAHA!”

On the mountain, I figured I’d be ok without them. The air was clear of snow and wind. The sky was cloudy, so the snow wasn’t reflecting sun. No need to worry.

I put the goggles back in my pocket. Seeing the narrow, tree-lined Black Diamond trails made me realize how much I had to learn. Even though I knew my limits, I’d secretly hoped we’d ski the K-12 before the day was over, but it wasn’t meant to be.

After more trudging along the incline of the South Shuttle, we reached the exit onto Twinkle. I stopped to readjust my gloves and scarf. And to delay the inevitable. While I had a moment to look, I noticed something bad. I couldn’t see the bottom of Twinkle. Christopher Columbus was wrong. This planet is flat and the edge is in Glenwood, New York.

I knew I couldn’t avoid skiing Twinkle, but I wanted to make it as painless as possible. Even though the slope had light traffic, I feared skiing in the middle. I knew I’d fall down, then get run over by someone with enough skill to go fast, but not enough to turn.

Now for the melodrama…
After a short time that must have seemed like an eternity to Danielle, I’d gathered my resolve. Danielle encouraged me from the bottom of the first slope, since she’d skied ahead to encourage me to follow her. Too bad I was having none of that.

I looked down the left side of the slope, saw an opening in the traffic, turned my skis toward the base, and headed down. After a few yards, I slammed my skis to the left to stop. I turned 110 degrees, throwing a lot of snow with the back of my right ski. I’d picked up too much speed and didn’t like it. I quickly realized my journey would be like this the entire way down. My inexperience was obvious, but my fear was the challenge.

I repeated this process multiple times before I’d passed the approximately 40 yards down to the first hill of the slope. Danielle continued to offer encouragement, but I didn’t realize that she was right to encourage me to push myself. I tried a little by forcing myself into a right turn. I didn’t quite make it, so I overcompensated and turn left to stop. I tipped over.

I struggled to get myself standing again. Doing this on the side of the mountain was different than trying to stand up on flat snow. It’s harder because gravity pulled me down if I turned the wrong way, but I could use the angle for better leverage when I aligned myself. I tried to remove my boot to make it easier, but I couldn’t use my pole to press a boot free from the lock. Leaning back, then pushing forward, I managed to stand up.

I aimed for a longer journey this time. I’d managed to gather speed and stop it when I almost ran over the instructor. I surmised that I could do it again. Danielle told me to do it. I did.

I turned my knees in when I needed to slow down. This was less effective than turning would be, but I kept moving forward. Once I’d gone about 40 yards, I began to think about what I was doing and became unnerved. I needed to stop, so I swooped left. I stopped but didn’t turn enough. I began to slide toward the snow bank on the left side. This wasn’t a good development. I tried to turn myself against the slope to stop my slide but couldn’t. I slid into the snow bank.

I didn’t realize it would be so hard to get out. The snow was 18 inches deep and I slid in to my boots. I couldn’t lift my skis because the snow was too heavy and I couldn’t back up because of the angle. I was stuck.

I sat down in the snow and devised a plan. My skis had to come off. While I tried to figure out how to unhook them, Danielle came over. She was laughing because I was stuck. People fall all the time while skiing, but they don’t get stuck in snow drifts. After trying to pull me out, she unhooked the lock on my skis.

I pulled myself away from the deep snow and stood up. I worked my way into my skis and scoped out the rest of the slope. There was an orange warning sign by the tree because I wouldn’t have seen the big tree otherwise. I wasn’t going that way anyway, since it was in the middle of the slope. I’d stretched my actions, but I still liked the safety of the sideline.

Since I was ready to continue, I tried to maneuver myself for the next run. I can’t explain how it happened, but here is the result:

Thankfully, I was beyond the possibility of embarrassment by now, but I still felt like a moron. I kept falling down while not skiing. Learning to ski must be what babies feel like learning to walk, but they’re fearless. I told Danielle to leave me. I was happy to die a cold, sweet death.

There was no way I was getting up by myself this time, so Danielle came back up the hill again to help me. Once standing, I drove the spiked tips of my poles into the snow and dug my left ski in for balance. This steadied me. She pointed out that I didn’t have far to go. We could see the chair lift by this point, so the end was a possibility. Seeing that we were alone on the slope, I headed into the middle to practice another right turn. As I skied forward, then pushed with my left leg, I started to turn right, then stopped. I didn’t complete the turn, but it was a start. Danielle skied ahead to judge the last hill since it looked steep. Even though there was no one at the bottom, there wasn’t much stopping room, so I wanted to know what it was like.

This was good because there was a large patch of ice in the middle of the last hill. She told me to ski to the left to avoid it. A couple of left turns, stops, and starts later, I stood at the bottom. The journey was ugly, but I’d made it down.

The most fortuitous realization was that we were on the South chair lift instead of the Central. I’d known we would end up here, but hadn’t expected the trip down to be so mentally exhausting. If we’d been on the Central slope, I doubt that I would’ve gone up again. Since we had to ride the lift to get back to the ski lodge, we swung around for the ride up. I had one more run in me. Then I’d have to explain to Danielle that I was ready to leave and I didn’t know how she’d take it.

Part four is still to come… I’m sorry for stringing this out. I’m not doing it intentionally, but I’m writing more narrative than I’m used to writing. Part three is over 2,400 words, all written today. That takes time, so my fingers are sore. I will wrap this up soon.

The Bread-O-Meter

Just when you were afraid I’d gone soft with the sentimental skiing narration… (part three arrives later tonight)

Weather forecasting is generally an imperfect activity. I understand that. In Washington, DC, the local meterologists seem to use a Ouija board for their forecasts. Specifically, I watched the weather telecast on Fox 5 this morning.

Yesterday, the meteorologist predicted freezing rain and ice to follow the snow we’d already received. The forecast changed many times throughout the day, with a hedged revision always thrown in. The following is his morning monologue:

I guessed wrong on the ice yesterday, so I’ll be giving away an umbrella later this morning.

An umbrella? At least make it meaningful and give away cash. Better yet, how about this: if you screw up the forecast, you get into a pit and we watch you fend off a hungry lion. You get weapons, of course, but one of you dies.

I believe that idea could happen some day, except I know there’s some ass in Olney who can’t wait to get his free Fox 5 umbrella.

Skiing (Part Two) – If something gets in your way, turn.

The instructor gave us our first task: glide a few yards down the slope, then turn left. That seemed easy enough. I have a much easier time turning left than right when ice skating, so I assumed this would be the same. I was right.

I didn’t factor in my position in line. Needing to observe and analyze put me into a more challenging position because the line at the top became the line on the side of the hill. The first person went a few yards and glided left. As the last person to try, I had to glide down a few yards times 8. I succeeded, but pulled into my turn going faster than I’d hoped. It brushes up a big snow burst, but that wasn’t the point. Worse yet, I knew what came next.

Our instructor explained the right turn. “Like the left turn, but push with your left leg instead of your right.” Oh, yes, it is that easy, my friends. He skied further down the hill and stopped on the right side.

Since I was the last one to try the left turn, I should’ve been the first one down for the right turn. I wasn’t ready to go, though. I needed to prepare. I didn’t want to stare at Death without care. I doubt Death enjoys a nonchalant gaze, so I didn’t want to be punished.

The first person at the top of the hill departed, followed by everyone else. I stayed where I was for an extra moment. Knowing that, even if I wanted to quit, I had to get down the slope, I prepared my mind with the actions I need to perform.

I felt extra conflict because of my position. This maneuver required a 180 degree shift in my direction. I’d seen the mesh fencing on the right side of the slope, but I didn’t want to tangle myself in it. Everyone else was at the bottom of the slope, getting in line for the J-Bar ride up, so I had to act soon. I turned downhill and skied.

I tried turning right, but that did not happen. I wobbled from side-to-side, turning left when I needed to slow myself down. After a brief rest, I stumbled to the bottom of the hill. I’d succeeded on my first trip down because I hadn’t fallen.

Since we’d put our poles aside while we learned to balance ourselves, I had to fight my way up the tiniest incline I’ve ever struggled against to get in line for the J-Bar. I wanted to use the ski poles, but we’d left them too far away. Once up the incline, I joined Danielle in the queue.

I caught my ride and prepared for the combined left and right turns that waited once I reached the top. I was stoic as she looked back at me each time the J-Bar stopped. People fall off a lot, but I avoided that indignity. As I neared the top, Danielle smiled encouragement at me. And the J-Bar stopped three feet short. Stranded on the bunny hill. Again.

We formed the line when everyone reached the top. Here is where I admit I was the last one to reach the top. As nervous as I was, I didn’t mind holding up the class. Besides, it’s all about me. Learn that now and it makes life easier.

The instructor explained how to relax and put multiple turns together. Since this will slow a skier’s descent, I listened. He told us to try it. Still lacking confidence, I hesitated. After everyone skied down (I’m last again?), the instructor asked me what size skis I had. I told him 158.

“Get shorter skis next time. It’ll give you less work to do when turning.”

I like that concept. I’m tall and lanky, so anything that will improve my mobility is helpful. (There was this one time, playing basketball at a friend’s house as a kid, I had some repeated troubles with a row of cobblestones surrounding the court. I won’t go into it.) He gave me his last words of encouragement, then told me he had to go for his next class.

“I’ll be fine, don’t worry.”

Fine right where I stood. He skied down. When he reached the bottom, I noticed Danielle coming up on the J-Bar, with both sets of ski poles, so I waited for her. Once she got to the top, we discussed my issues with turning right and how to overcome them. Then she said she’d meet me at the bottom and skied down.

Alone, I prepared my plan. I was not ready for this but I had to do it. I hatched a safety plan. Skiing down the hill slowly, with my legs turned in and feet turned out, I could practice multiple skills. I would learn to slow myself, maintain balance, and navigate obstacles. A brilliant idea.

While facing right, I turned to my left and headed down. Picking up speed, I turned the back of my skis out and pushed into the snow. I descended, but slowly and under control! I made slight turns as necessary, and stayed composed.

At the bottom, I tried to contain my excitement. I looked up and noticed Danielle filming my journey. I assumed she was taking a picture, but realized she was capturing video when she kept filming. I raised my arms in triumph. A simple task, but I’d done it. I started to ski to her in line for the J-Bar ride.

Have a look at my triumph.

Video: My first journey down a slope!

What you can’t tell in that video is that I’m laughing like a crazy person at the end. I had no other possible response to that absurdity.

After a few moments, I tried to get up. No one said getting up with skis strapped to my feet would be so hard. I attempted every body twist I could imagine to get up, but nothing worked. I looked up to motion Danielle to come over. Once she got to me, I tried to get up by pushing myself off the ground. When this didn’t work, I discovered that I needed to lean back, then push downward, while she pulled my up by my hand. Once I was standing again, we skied back to the queue for the J-Bar. While in line, she knocked the snow from my coat and jeans as I continued laughing at myself.

I grabbed the J-Bar first, so I rode up the hill ahead of Danielle. After a few stops because people still couldn’t hold on to the pole, I reached the top without being stopped three feet short. I skied away from the J-Bar to position myself for the next trip down while I waited for Danielle. After positioning myself, I looked over at Danielle. As she got to the top, the J-Bar stopped her three feet short of the top. She smiled at me as I laughed. “Neener neener,” ran through my head.

Once she reached me, she offered words of encouragement, explaining more details about turning right. I had to learn this before moving on to the next slope, I began to think I’d spend the entire afternoon on Candy Cane. It seemed a plausible, positive dream.

At this point, we both knew that I needed to ski down, whatever the consequences. I could make turns as I went, even if it meant a face-first dive into the snow. It seemed too simple, but skiing was the best way to learn to ski.

Danielle offered a final pep talk, then left me alone. When she reached the bottom a few moments later, I knew I had to follow.

I scoped out the path ahead and noticed a clear lane down the right side of the hill. This was the time to try right turns as I skied down the hill. I calmed myself, then leapt forward. Once again, I was out of control and had to skid to a stop, but I did it with a right turn instead. Pleased, I headed down again. My descent was ugly, but I managed to turn left to steer away from the edge, then right again to practice multiple turns. I reached the bottom with a triumphant smile on my face.

“Let’s go to the chair lift,” Danielle said. “We’re going to ski Snowball.”

“But I want to try Candy Cane again.”

“No, you’re ready for Snowball.”

“But…” Unconvinced, I followed her to the chair lift.

Part three still to come…

How did this happen?

Someone turned me into a shoe whore. Being a man, I decided I would at least do it on my terms.

I decided to go back to my childhood over the summer, so I bought a pair of red Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars. Whenever I wasn’t working, I wore my red Chucks. That seemed to satisfy my need for a few months but then the chaos hit.

Rather than drone on and on, I’ll leave you with this. Fill in your own idea of how this happened.

The image awaits behind this link.

Converse, if you’re reading, I need a pair in yellow and a pair in orange. That’s all I’m asking.

Skiing (Part One) – Hitting the Slopes

I spent the weekend in Buffalo for Danielle’s birthday. Since it’s Buffalo in January, there’s always snow. That can make it difficult, but I’m not a typical “southerner”. I love snow. Despite loving snow, I’d managed to make it through 30+ years without attempting to ski. Saturday, that changed.

I’ve always wanted to try skiing. Growing up, we never had much money, so skiing was a luxury that I never got a chance to try. I could’ve tried five years ago, but the day my company did a ski outing, I had a trip planned to visit my friend Charles in Cleveland. So I lived this long without skiing.

Danielle decided that we’d try Kissing Bridge, a ski resort near Buffalo. There are other slopes in the area, but Kissing Bridge offers a First-time Skier package. For $35, it includes a lesson, equipment rental, and an all-day lift ticket. This way, if I hated skiing, there was minimal investment.

We arrived at the ski lodge at noon, ready for our adventure. Upon entering, we went to the information desk to sign up. Since there was a line, we walked to the ticket desk, thinking this would be a logical place to buy the package. While logical, it was incorrect. So we walked back to the information desk and waited in the wrong line.

Once in the appropriate line, we bought our tickets. The cashier handed us many pieces of paper, which would allow us to get everything we needed. Rather than wait for a sufficient explanation, we accepted them. We figured it would be easier to hold out everything like a tourist using foreign currency when we reached the next person in the process.

The next person was in the rental shop. We filled out the rental form that signed away our right to sue Kissing Bridge if we hurt ourselves on their equipment. That was okay, because what could go wrong?

After filling this out, we moved around the counter to get in line. Not knowing what to do next, we waited for an employee to notice us. A guy asked us if we had our boots yet, and we said no. Danielle and I gave each other a glance and a laugh when the next words the guy said were “I need you guyses shoes.” Pluralization need follow no rules. I love English.

We put on our boots before moving on to get skis. Walking in these boots was like walking in concrete shoes. The next guy gave us skis after debating which size to give us. He asked me which size I wanted. Size? I should’ve said I don’t know, but I chose a blank stare instead. Thankfully he understood, so he used the size chart to determine the right length. He picked the size below the size recommended for my height. I questioned this, but we didn’t quite communicate with each other, so I accepted the shorter skis. This would be my second-best decision of the day.

He then asked if we wanted poles. Since I wished to have some way to hold myself up, I said yes. We now had all of our equipment and just enough time to run to the 1:00 lesson.

We arrived at the lesson as the instructor walked up to the group. While playing with my skis, he started speaking. “How many of you have skied before?” Danielle raised her hand. “How many of you have ice skated before?” Hey, I know the answer to this! I raised my hand. By now, I’d finally clicked into my skis and dug myself into my gloves. “Now that everyone has their skis on, take them off.” He’s joking, right? This was a lot of work. We did as we were told.

The instructor showed us a few basic tips for balance and control. Feet shoulder-width apart. Eyes looking where I want to go. Just like basketball and motorcycles. I could do this.

He took us to the edge of a slope for the next part of the lesson. He showed us how to walk up the slope in our skis and how to balance ourselves once we were there. We learned how to walk up sideways and how to walk up like a duck. After one trip up, I was exhausted.

After learning to walk up the slope, we had to learn to come down. Gravity takes care of this, so the key is learning control. My first trip down, my feet were too close together and my body was too rigid. Unbalanced, I raced down the slope, heading directly for the instructor. He side-stepped me as I got myself under control, turned hard left, and skidded to a stop. An auspicious start, but I wanted to try again.

I walked up the hill with the rest of the group. Following my natural tendency, I analyzed my performance to learn from it. I figured out what I did wrong, based on my motorcycle experience. I didn’t look forward. Always look toward the intended path, not the current location.

My turn came again and I was ready. I turned toward the bottom of the slope and headed down. Out of control again and moving faster than before. I went further than before but stopped myself short of any disastrous accident. In two trips down, I’d learned that I had no idea what I was doing, but at least I didn’t panic when I was out of control.

We headed over to Candy Cane, the “bunny” hill. Candy Cane is a big, scary slope. With lots of people. This would be an adventure, because we were going to practice turning. Instead of wiping out the instructor in my path, I’d turn into someone else. A 7-year-old someone else.

The practice slope is at the bottom of Mistletoe. Candy Cane is on the left, next to First Aid.

I rode the J-Bar up the bunny mountain hill. The J-Bar is an interesting contraption. It’s a spring attached to a moving cable. Riding up, it’s a guide, not a lift, so leaning on it is a bad idea. I knew this riding up, so I was fine, but it did stop every few seconds because someone fell down on the way up.

At the top of the hill, the goal is to throw the J-Bar aside and ski away from the path of the person behind. Since it’s an uphill ride, I couldn’t get off until it put me at the top. As I neared the summit, it stopped three feet short. Stranded on the bunny hill.

Once I reached her at the top, Danielle reassured me that I’d be fine. I’m a quick learner and a decent athlete, so I shouldn’t worry. There are no brakes on skis, so I worried.

Part two still to come…

When do I go national?

I had a blog entry planned a few days ago, but got side-tracked for a reason that I’ll explain later (hopefully tomorrow). I wanted to write about Winston Churchill’s 104-year-old parrot called Charlie. Churchill taught her to make interesting comments about Hitler and the Nazis. Decades after Churchill’s death, Charlie “can still be coaxed into repeating them with that unmistakable Churchillian inflection.”

Today, I listened to the Don and Mike Show, and they discussed Charlie on the show. I’m fascinated that I’m doing the same thing in “preparing” for my gig as a blogger that Don Geronimo does to prepare for his national radio show. At least I had the story prepared earlier than they did.

Yes, I know yesterday was a holiday, so Don and Mike weren’t on the air. Yes, I know I didn’t write this entry until tonight. However, I can believe anything I want.

Maybe I’ll even be a “National Traysure” one day.

P.S. I promise you’ll know soon why I took a 4 day break from RollingDoughnut.