I miss it so much

This morning I watched NBC’s “The Great Race”, a recap of the men’s 4x10km relay at the Lillihammer Olympics. (It’s available on Google Video if you didn’t catch it, but it costs money and requires Windows to do so.

It was an extremely well done piece, although they didn’t show the famous bit where Dahle stopped and tried to force the Italian to go ahead of him, but he wouldn’t. At least I think that was in this race – maybe I’m thinking of the 4×10 at Salt Lake?

Anyway, I’m watching these guys race in brilliant sunshine, and it’s a similarly brilliantly sunny and cold day here. And I feel every movement – my muscles are twiching in time to them, and I can feel it, I can smell it, and I can taste it. I feel the fatigue, the joy, the accomplishment. I remember the way your lungs burn and your muscles work, I remember the way you could smell the humidity and temperature, see and feel the condition of the tracks, and adjust your stride accordingly. I remember seeing and feeling every little rut and bump in the track and trying to use it to your advantage. I remember that nifty little way you’d swing one of your poles forward when you switched from diagonal stride to double poling, and how cool it looked when others did it. I remember being in packs of skiers all in synch. I remember going out every weekend that there wasn’t a race and skiing 30 to 50 kilometers, and not thinking anything about it. I remember skiing in the rain, in bitter, bitter cold, in icy conditions, in slush, where there wasn’t any snow on the ground or when it was snowing so hard that you couldn’t see the next bend in the trail. And I remember doing it all because on those days when it was sunny and about -2C and your wax was good, there was no feeling in the world like it. It didn’t matter if you won or came in slower than your personal best, it was just great to be out there. The effort beforehand, and the soreness and tiredness afterwards, it was all worth it.

After the race, I started to cry. It was the worst cry I’ve had since I was in therapy, huge wracking sobs. And all because I realized that I’ll never have that feeling again.

When I was a young skier, just starting to enter ski races, there was a skier in my club named Karl. He was older, grey haired, and had started skiing in his home country (Germany, I think) when he was quite young. I was about 15, and he was probably in his mid to late 50s. He gave me advice and encouragement. The first year or two, he was well ahead of me in every race. Then I got a pair of real Peltonen racing skis instead of my heavy old Madshus light touring skis. They were light, they were fast, and they had three grooves in the tail that were supposed to break the suction on wet snow. They weren’t the most aggressive racing skis on the market, they weren’t even the most aggressive racing skis that Peltonen made. But they were mine. And the first race I skied in them, I cut a HUGE percentage off my previous best, and beat Karl by a small margin.

Karl became less and less of a factor in my later years, but I always thought that when I got to his age, I’d be enouraging young racers the same way. Between him and Jackrabbit Johannsen, I had enough role models to think that skiing was going to be part of my life for the rest of my life.

That was before the pain. And now I have to accept the fact that pain is going to be the defining element of the rest of my life, not skiing.

Thinking about Oshkosh

Watching Steve Fossett’s record breaking flight, I started thinking about last year’s aborted trip to Oshkosh. Last year would have been amazing, with appearances by the Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer, Spaceship One, and more. I couldn’t get anybody to go with me, so I was planning to fly the Lance and camp. I only have a tiny one-man tent, but with the Lance, if things got bad I could sleep in the back there is so much room. But I had to cancel because Vicki and I bought this fantastic house and we needed to clear up 15 years of crud from the old place and prepare the new place. I have no regrets about the house, just about missing Oshkosh.

I was looking forward to camping because the previous time I’d gone with a bunch of guys from the flying club, and while it was fun, I felt let I was being pulled away from the grounds just at the best part of the daily airshows because they wanted to avoid the traffic and get something to eat. By camping, I wouldn’t have to leave the airfield at all. Of course, there is the slight problem that I don’t have much camping gear any more, and so I’d have to buy a camp stove and cooler and food and stuff like that. But that’s minor.

So then I read in Mark’s blog that he was thinking of driving out to Oshkosh. Hey, I thought, here’s a chance to do some flying with Mark, camp at Oshkosh, and have some fun.

I’ve booked the Dakota for the trip. Sure, the Lance is available, but as of this spring, the Dakota is going to have a new engine, new prop, new Garmin 530 GPS, a fairly new Stormscope, and a paint job barely two years old. It’s really the show piece of the club, and I’d be proud to fly a “Rochester Flying Club” banner from it while tied down in Oshkosh camping. Of course, taking the Lance is still an option, and maybe the extra room would come in handy, but with the ancient radios and old engine and all that, it just wouldn’t wow them (and Mark) like the Dakota will. And even the Dakota will seem roomy next to the Cessna 150s he’s used to flying.

Content Management Systems

My experiments with SQLite have been on hold for the last week or so because Vicki signed me up to be on the web committee for the Browncroft Neighborhood Association. The current page is functional but not pretty, plus it’s hosted on an AOL member’s account. If I were to host it myself, they’d have gigabytes of space instead of the 2 megabytes they have now.

We’ve got a committee together, so the first thing I did was set up a mailing list for the web committee. After a week, though, not one member of the list has sent any messages to it except for me.

The second thing I did was register the domain BrowncroftNA.org and set up virtual hosting on my home server.

The third thing I did was spend some time at OpenSourceCMS.com trying out different Content Management Systems (CMS). One that caught my eye was ModX, which has a really nice AJAX-y administration interface. So I set it up on my server to experiment with. Obviously, I’m going to have to wait for the committee to decide on what content they want and where they want it, and that sort of thing. But I think a CMS looks like the way to go for the basic framework.

One thing I haven’t figured out how to do with this CMS is how to create role accounts that can upload files and link them to one particular web site – so, for example, the news letter editor can upload PDFs of the newsletters and link them from a news letter page. Or the History Committee can upload pictures and articles about the history of the neighborhood. Maybe I can do it, or maybe I’ll have to switch to a different CMS.

One thing that some CMS have, but this one doesn’t, is a web forum. I don’t like web forums much myself – I much prefer email lists. Some people like them though, so perhaps what I should look for is a web forum that can also email out posts to a mailing list as well as through an RSS feed. That way everybody can be happy.

The search continues.


So after a month and a half of a winter that thought it was spring, today is clear and cold. It feels like Ottawa, a feeling accentuated by the fact that this morning I can see two sundogs, one on each side of the sun. Cool stuff.

In other news, the spam run seems to be over – I haven’t seen a spam attempt since 14:20 yesterday.