DON’T ASK WHY

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DAVID VOGEL
I would like to personally welcome you to 2005, but this column will have to do, so….

Happy New Year!

I hope all of you have made and started your resolutions for the new year. I think the smartest resolution that can be made is to not make any resolutions at all.

But setting goals for self-improvements seems to be America’s favorite pastime; failing those goals seems to be the second choice.

One resolution I will never make is to snow ski. I’ve learned everything I need to know about skiing from “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” where the clips usually involve skiers running over other skiers, running over small children, running over other skiers who are holding small children, running over yourself, and running over trees.

I personally don’t enjoy it when the ground comes up and smacks me in the face. That’s why I usually avoid activities that could cause that occurrence, say, exercising.

However, I recently came across an old Reader’s Digest from 15 years ago-for those of you reading this in the Free Press archives, that’s January 1990).

You’re probably wondering where I’m going with that last statement. To tell you the truth, so was I until I found the right dog-eared page.

The article is condensed from a book called “Skiing: A Skier’s Dictionary.”

“A Skier’s Dictionary” is set up in dictionary form (i.e., alphabetical order) and lists words and phrases used for skiing. For example, the first word is….

ALP: One of a number of ski mountains in Europe. Also a shouted request from assistance made by a European skier on a U.S. mountain. An appropriate reply: ‘What’s Zermatter?’

“Alps” is followed by…

AVALANCHE: One of the few actual perils skiers face that needlessly frighten timid individuals away from the sport. See also BLIZZARD, FRACTURE, FROSTBITE, HYPOTHERMIA, LIFT COLLAPSE.

The list goes to the “B” words. (See how this alphabetical thing works?) One of the two words is…

BONES: There are 206 in the human body. No need for dismay, however: two bones of the middle ear have never been broken in a skiing accident.

The article also describes different forms of skiing. From the C-section (we’re talking dictionary here, not childbirth) is…

CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING: Traditional Scandinavian all-terrain snow-traveling technique. It’s good exercise. It doesn’t require the purchase of costly lift tickets. It has no crowds or lines. It isn’t skiing. See CROSS-COUNTRY SOMETHING-OR-OTHER.

CROSS-COUNTRY SOMETHING-OR-OTHER: Touring on skis along trails in scenic wilderness, gliding through snow-hushed woods far from the hubbub of the ski slopes, hearing nothing but the whispery hiss of the skis slipping through the snow and the muffled tinkle of car keys dropping into the puffy powder of a deep, wind-sculpted drift.

Upon entering the “M” section, you’ll find a quick description of the weather you may experience.

MICROCLIMATES: Weather conditions may vary dramatically over small areas. For example, on a February day when it is 25 degrees and windy at the mountain top, it may be an early spring day with heavy showers under his turtleneck, and icy midnight at his toes.

“S” and “T” are the final two letters in this dictionary.

SHIN: The bruised area on the front of the leg that runs from the point where the ache from the wrenched knee ends to where the soreness from the sprained ankle begins.

SKIER: One who pays an arm and a leg for the opportunity to break them.

THOR: Thandinavian god of acheth and paineth.

After reading these definitions, I’m sure you’ll agree with my resolution to never ski. I hope you will also adopt this as your resolution, too. But then again, even if we do get a decent amount of snow this year, where are you going to find a slope steep enough to get anywhere, say, face flat on the ground?

TRAVERSE: To ski across a slope at an angle; one of two quick and simple methods of reducing speed.

TREE: The other method.

* * *

UFO: About this time last year I said that as my new year’s resolution, I was going to add a UFO (Useless Factual Observation) to the end of every column. I am happy to report, I kept my promise. A week didn’t go by where you didn’t have the chance to learn something you didn’t need to.

Don’t ask why.

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