Here’s looking down Big Horn at Whitefish Mountain, yesterday afternoon:


Ethel likes to say that her husband “skis off of cliffs”. Now, I think that that’s a misleading statement, to some extent, in that I’m not flying off of forty foot tall overhangs, like a Warren Miller ski star.

But, when I was looking down Big Horn yesterday, it occurred to me that she’s almost right – or maybe just right, but let’s not make too much of it. And it’s an important distinction between “off of” and “down”.

The definition I saw of “cliff” this morning was:

a very steep, vertical, or overhanging face of rock, earth, or ice : precipice

Given that, then, yes, I do ski off cliffs, since there’s no stated minimum height.

From this aspect of Big Horn, above, when I come off of that lip, I won’t hit the snow for five or ten feet, depending on how quickly I slide off. So, there’s that. If you want to call that skiing “off of” a cliff, then, okay, but it ain’t much.

But that works for the “vertical or overhanging” part of the definition. But, taking the “very steep” meaning, then, well, all of Big Horn is a “cliff”. It’s pretty darn steep. It’s steep enough that I don’t think I would want to try to go down it, in the summer, without a harness and top rope.

In the winter, though, in deep snow, on a pair of skis? It’s just heaven 🙂

So I only ski off of very small cliffs, but I do ski DOWN some cliff-like surfaces.

I’m pretty tired, today – I’ve skied over 100K of vertical in maybe four days this week. And a lot of it has been down Big Horn, or other faces along the same ridge line on the north side. I’m pretty tired – but now comes the weekend, when I’ll spend most of the day skiing blue cruisers with my darling bride!

…and she does not ski “off of” cliffs. Or even “down” them 🙂

We’ve had quite a bit of snow this last week here in unutterably gorgeous Whitefish, Montana 🙂

Here’s a picture that Walt snapped of me skiing down the face of Kodiak, yesterday morning:


It’s a surprisingly clear picture, in that during most of these turns, the snow cloud was up over my head 🙂 All during the last two days, we’ve had what they call “blower pow” which means “powder that blows up and over your head when you ski through it”.

It’s been powder day after powder day – we were expecting the last two days to be frigidly cold, but that didn’t happen; the really cold air went north and east. Instead, it’s just been great skiing and moderately cold temperatures. Well, this is Montana; I didn’t move here for the warm weather 🙂

The skiing is still wearing me out. But I’m still going to meetings, and doing some housework, and practicing my piano. This evening, we’re supposed to go shooting at the indoor range with another couple; I’m not sure that that’s going to happen. It’s really up to Ethel. I did buy her a target pistol for Christmas, but she hasn’t broken it down and cleaned it yet – until she does that, we ain’t going to the range 🙂

Okay, time for me to go back to the Minuet in G, yet again….

There’s some rule that says something like “the length of time it takes to do a task will grow until it fills the amount of time allotted to that task”.

I don’t know the name of the rule. But I can state a corollary – “the amount of energy used in skiing will grow until it uses up all available energy”.

Here’s the view, looking up Smitty’s in the North Face Bowl today at Whitefish Mountain Resort:


Today was one of the best powder days on record. And I’ve skied more, this year, than I may have skied in any one year, ever, and it’s only mid-January, so I’m skiing well. And I was trying out some new (old) powder skis.

I skied until I had no legs left.

It’s been six days since I’ve done any kind of workout – but I’ve probably skied over 100K feet of vertical in those six days, and so I’m still exhausted. I stopped working out so that I would have more energy; and I suspect that I do, but I’m using up all of that energy by skiing more.

I need a Plan B.

(N.B. – “Plan B” may be “Tuesday and Wednesday” – apparently, it’s not going to get much above 0 for the next two days, and it’ll be too cold to do Dawn Patrol either day. So just maybe I’ll get some rest).


Some years ago, Tom Petty did a song called “The Last DJ” – having to do with the demise of the local music disc jockey.

The last – ever – Steely Dan album had a song called “The Last Mall”. Amazon’s not the biggest company in the world by accident.

Well, this is the last day of the last, ever – for me – Dilbert calendar.


Ethel’s been buying these for me for years; it was a staple under the Christmas tree. I’ve always liked Dilbert, even though the last three companies that I worked for – over the last twenty one years of my professional life – were definitely not Dilbert material.

I’ve been avoiding tearing off December 30th, to see the 31st underneath, because I knew that it would be the last one. I don’t have a job any more, so Ethel has stopped buying me the calendars.

There’s something about retirement that’s full of “last”s. Before retirement, with job changes, there are always “different”s, but rarely “last”s. But now my life is full of things that I’ll never do again.

The other day, I mentioned going to an AA meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland. And suddenly it hit me – I’ll never do business travel again. I’ve traveled way more on the company dime than I ever would have imagined traveling on my own. And – that’s never going to happen again.

So my life is winding down – and it’s doing that by sloughing off things. Things like “travel” and “salary” and “conference calls” and “releases” and “reviews”. Life gets easier, sure, but it does that by getting SMALLER, and simpler.

I still read Dilbert daily online, but my standard way to begin my workday was always to read the online, “today” strip, and then to tear off the page on the calendar and see the “recycled” strip from a few years ago.

Won’t be doing that, ever, again.

(Editor’s Note: I thought I posted this yesterday. I was wrong. Please read this with the understanding that “today” is Thursday, January 9th 🙂


Definitely need to recover.

Here’s the top of the mountain, yesterday morning:


And you’re seeing it much better than I was; unbeknownst to me, my goggles foam and balaclava were damp, and so my goggles kept fogging on the inside. In addition, the fog was freezing on the outside.


I’ve been so tired; tired to the point where it felt like I was ill. My last workout of any kind was on Tuesday; I did the 45 minute version of my VO2Max bike ride, and then skied hard – hard enough that I managed to get the aforementioned items so wet that they didn’t dry out overnight in the locker.

So yesterday morning, I was dragging; it was bad. I got to the top of the hill, and I couldn’t see. I tried to ski, and my eyes couldn’t see the turns, and my legs couldn’t do the turns.

It was not a good ski day.

I was so depressed at the visibility, and the almost total lack of sun this whole ski season, that I was whining that I wanted to move back to Utah.

I gave up and came home after five runs.

I spent the day resting. I got TWO naps.

This morning, I forewent (is that the past tense of “forego”?) my bike ride and just went to the ski hill. Went up the chair, and here’s what it looked like this morning:



My legs felt much fresher, and I knocked out just shy of 20K worth of real skiing. I wanted to keep going, but decided that I need to keep recovering. I’m not out of the woods yet.

I don’t know how long it will take me to really recover; and I don’t know how much training volume or intensity I’ll be able to maintain once I do get my energy back. But I don’t want to miss days like this.

I bought this recliner on New Year’s Day.


I had been to look at this chair many times; the furniture store is about a quarter mile from our house, and a good friend works there. I’ve sat in this chair, in the store, many times. It’s a great chair.

On New Year’s, the store had a sale, and the price got knocked down some, so I went ahead and bought it – and threw it in the back of the truck, and came home and watched the second half of the Rose Bowl in it.

It’s a great chair.

It’s an expensive chair, though – make no bones about it. It’s good stuff.

This recliner comes in a variety of finishes, but this particular finish is a soft, untreated suede leather – it’s gorgeous, and feels great under my hand.

On the second of January, I woke up early, and I already had buyer’s remorse about this chair – again, it’s an expensive recliner. But I was able to work around that just fine, until….

…..until I poured a cup of coffee, put my creamer and sweetener in the coffee, and walked over to the recliner.

And at that point, I realized that I couldn’t sit in the recliner while drinking coffee.


The chair would be stained. Not only that – but the coffee (and the creamer) would soak into that soft leather, and then it would stink.

Apparently this recliner was made for neater folk than I.

No huhu, cobber; I called the furniture store, and they will be picking this recliner up this afternoon.  In addition, they’ve put in an order for the same recliner, but in a darker – and much more durable and impermeable treated leather.

Yeah, it won’t have that soft, suede feel, but it also won’t wind up stinking like last year’s dairy products.


Saw this on a child’s helmet while waiting in the longest lift line so far this year:

I couldn’t help but wonder – this was a sticker on a ski helmet. So, the child would only be wearing it while skiing. So what would the child “rather be skiing” than doing – while wearing the helmet?

It’s like having a sign that says “I’d rather be in my living room” – on the wall in my living room.

Now, a case could be made that the sticker is actually saying “I’d rather be skiing [in] Montana” – however, the difference in font supports the convention of “make a statement, and then put the placename in a different font, to show where the sticker came from”.

(Besides – the child also had Whitefish and Big Mountain stickers on his* helmet; there’s no reason to assume that he skis anywhere else anyway).

Now, I could make a snarky remark here about “I’d rather be skiing than standing in this liftline…” – but the truth is that getting on the lift is part of the skiing experience, so I can’t make this make sense using that bit of sarcastic sophistry.

Speaking of helmets (and stickers) – see that vertical black strap, in the middle of the back of the helmet, that is holding the goggle strap in place? That one broke on my helmet a week or two ago. Now, it just so happens that I have a spare – it’s actually Silas’ helmet, which has only been worn a few times. And I could switch over to that helmet, but – doggone it! I’ve got lots of good stickers on that helmet!

But – just to stretch this out – my new parka has a hood that’s designed to go over the helmet, and so nobody sees my stickers anyway. So I might as well not have ’em.

Along those lines – yesterday, I came off some smallish jumps in the trees off of Black Bear. On both of these, I fell, and fell hard – and the second jump, I fell hard enough, and in such a direction, as to snap off an essential strap from my skiing backpack.

My helmet and parka I’ve had for ten years – I’ve had that K2 pack for twenty. And they quite literally don’t make backpacks like that anymore- that kind of durable material and hardware. The zippers on that pack are almost as big as my thumbnail. The fabric feels like somebody made canvas out of nylon.

So now I’ve lost** my parka, helmet, and backpack, in the space of a couple of weeks. It feels like my skiing life is being ripped away – all this while I’m skiing every day, and already have almost 400,000 feet of vertical for the year.


*I was not able to determine the child’s gender while behind him in line, so I finally got tired of saying “the child” and began using the masculine pronoun, which includes the indefinite.

**okay, I didn’t “lose” the parka. But Ethel got me a new one for Christmas. What am I going to do – not use the new one?