Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Back online!

Hey gang, sorry for the lax writing....but I really didn't think anyone was reading anymore.
Plus, I've been busy again. I worked all six days last week and had a story to work on for the Cubs magazine on the 1969 team. Things have slowed a little, due in large part to me tweaking my famously bad back while going down Waterfall, a mogul run, with Ziggy on Sunday. I didn't fall--at least not from the bad twist. I went down shortly after that, though, and slid down the mountain about 25 yards headfirst on my back. I laughed about it, though, and attribute the injury to hiking 15 minutes UP the mountain (see video below) earlier that day so that we could ski the Nevada side of Heavenly.
We've had our share of visitors the last few weeks--Suzy Gunbarrel, Wedge Kristy and Terry's brother,  Tom, and family among them. Scott Aspen and Sky McAlpine are scheduled to arrive today. After that, we get no love. Isn't anyone gonna come visit in March? I tested out Ziggy's air mattress when his family was here and it's comfy cozy!
So what else is new? We continue to train toward our Level 1 certification. I think by now our $65 mugs we purchased at the Bear Bar at the bottom of Cal Base have paid themselves off. (We get two ounces more of beer for $1 less than the regular cups.) Not to mention the fact our generous tipping and gregarious personalities have made fast friends of the bar staff there.
Getting better at the skiing and working on my form. I've started understanding how to ski moguls and have made a few trips down the vaunted double black-diamond "face" of Cal base. It's still quite a challenge but not quite as intimidating. In April they have what's called the "Gunbarrel 25." The "Face" forks into two runs at the bottom, "Gunbarrel" and "East Bowl." The race is to see how many times you can go down Face/Gunbarrel in a day. Those that make it up and down 25 times make this exclusive club. Ziggy has done one trip in about 13-15 minutes, so you can see it takes a busy day of skiing to qualify.
Socially, we've done a few fun things in the last few weeks. We saw the Reverend Horton Heat one night and the comedy of Dana Carvey another--both at Mount Bleu Casino. Taj Mahal is here this Saturday at Harrah's, so might be catching some more music. Other than that, been laying somewhat low. Money has been getting tight, as I took home a grand total of $8.20 in my last two paychecks (covering four weeks). That should change, hopefully starting tomorrow.
My book has been printed and will be shipped within a week to the printer. They're going to send me a couple copies out here and I'm making plans to be at HoHoKam Park in Mesa for the Cubs' last four Cactus League home games. Come down and visit!
Promise to try to update more often but you gotta show the love and drop a comment now and then, people. I'm hearing crickets out there!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Real quick because I gotta get to the mountain for our Level 1 clinic. Ziggy and I are both battling the same nasty cold. Came down with it the day after whooping it up for the Super Bowl. What a great game, huh? I was rooting for the Steelers and came very close to putting $20 down and giving seven points to the Cards. (Glad I didn't do that.)
We checked out the casinos as an option to watch the game, but most of them still allow smoking and that just wasn't working for us. Not to mention the expensive beer prices. So we went to a sports bar called Mo's but found no spots at the bar and a crowd of mostly guys. It was on to Steamer's, which had two empty stools at the bar in front of a big plasma TV, and $1 nachos and 25 cent wings. Sold!
Like most, we were enthralled with the game and Arizona's comeback. But my Steelers took the prize. (Most of us 40-somethings sided with either the Cowboys or Steelers back in the day when they met in two Super Bowls. I went with the Steel Curtain and Terrible Towel.) After the game, we stopped back at Mo's for a nightcap and enjoyed a celebratory beer with the Super Bowl's winning QB, Big Ben Roethlisberger (pictured at top).
OK, it wasn't really Big Ben, but a strong likeness, eh? He was actually our height, so Ziggy and I bent at the knees to give the illusion we were standing next to the 6-5 two-time Super Bowl champion! Actually, the next day the real Tony Siragusa was at Heavenly, taking ski lessons with his wife from my buddy Hollywood, who officially certified Ziggy and I as adaptive ski school instructors yesterday. Hooray! That means I might actually get some more work.
Speaking of which, it's gotten a little busier in spite of the lack of snow. I had lessons on Saturday and Monday and hope that continues with President's Day weekend ahead. They had a big party for all Heavenly employees last night. There must've been about 500 people in this giant banquet hall on the second floor of Harrah's! Zig and I probably shouldn't have gone, with our colds, but we were home and relaxing while watching "Lost" by 8:30.
That's all. Said it'd be quick. Is anyone still reading this blog anyway?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Itchy and Scratchy Show

First off, I must explain the title of my last post, "Never Stor Exploring," which I'd intended to do in the text. Too much to cover, I guess. So a few years back I got a free North Face ski jacket from my buddy from Toons, Benny (we call him "Mr. Whoopie" because he seems to know something about everything). His friend had picked a few of them up when he was in China. They're either knockoffs or mistakes because the slogan stitched onto the zipper lining was mispelled to read "Never Stor Exploring." I think it's better than Never Stop Exploring. Don't you agree?
Since my last writing, I made a few 11th-hour changes to my book (long and frustrating story but I think I'm at last out from under the rather large and bureaucratic thumb of MLB). I think it's off to the printer and I hopefully should see the first copy in the coming weeks!
So Ziggy and I had our second week of training in the adaptive ski program. This time we were working with the monoski, which is very similar to the bi-ski we worked with a week earlier, only there's one ski instead of two. It's much easier to knock over. Zig lucked out and didn't have to be the "dummy in a bucket" this week, as our instructor's buddy, Tom, had that distinction. Tom is a Chicago guy--grew up in Schaumburg and actually injured himself in a five-story fall in I think Arlington Heights while working as a window washer.
We each took turns steering the monoski from in front and behind with Tom in it. I twisted too much from behind one time and Tom fell over. My skis got tangled up with him and we were a tangled mess. Ouch! My knees were locked up and with a little more speed I think I'd have blown one or both out.  I preferred steering from the front, but then you're skiing backward. You can see how dangerous this is, and I'm wondering if it's for me.
The second half of the lesson we just skied, and I tell you, Tom can flat-out rip it up on that thing. He was virtually impossible for any of us to keep up with on the groomed trails. Once we got into the trees, though (yes, a partially paralyzed guy was skiing around trees), we had the advantage. He and our instructor, "Hollywood" we call him, were pretty funny together. Hollywood treats Tom like anybody else, insulting him, teasing and even laughing after Tom wiped out. Hollywood wiped out second later. "Right back at cha!" Tom shouted.
We had our Level 1 certification clinic on Thursday and were filmed by our teacher, "Weavin' Steven." Then he critiqued our skiing in the classroom session that night. Needless to say, I've got a lot to work on!
On Friday, Zig's buddy "Itchy" was out from Elmhurst with a few of his snowboarding buddies--two guys from Texas and another from Cali. The Cali guy brought some sort of flu virus with and we were struggling not to catch it after hearing stories of Dallas Greg puking on his way to meet us at Alpine Meadows for a day on the slopes in one of Tahoe's smaller, local ski resorts. We partied that night in Tahoe City, having Mexican food (I know, bad choice when the flu is going around) and shooting some pool at Pete & Peter's.
I drove back yesterday morning because I was scheduled to work. I was back in the red Heavenly uniform for the first time in almost three weeks! In fact, payday was Thursday. I hadn't worked so figured I wouldn't have a check. Well, there was one day in there, so my pay was to be $28. When I opened the check, though, it was for $0. Why would anybody print up a check for $0? That's just assinine. The reason is because we were able to purchase black jackets that are great to wear underneath our unis for a $50 payroll deduction. So essentially I was given a check for two weeks of work and still owe my employer $22! Times are tough, aren't they?
Ziggy skied Squaw Valley with his buddies yesterday and loved it. Can't wait to get out there. Through Heavenly, if we bring a letter from our HR department, we get discounts at these other resorts. We paid $35 to ski Kirkwood last weekend and $25 at Alpine Meadows--both good deals when you owe your boss $22 after two weeks of work!