Duct Tape- the Panacea of Repair

Home repairs have never been one of my strong suits. My dad could do anything- plumbing, electric work,etc. and you would think that I could have picked up some skills over all the years that I did the grunt work for him while he skillfully repaired things in our house. My brain is not wired that way and unfortunately the art of true home repair or repair of any kind escapes me. I am basically a “rigger”. I rig things. Take when my wife Janet first moved into my townhouse when we were married. She inquired what the wire hanger was doing protruding out of the toilet in the upstairs bathroom. I explained that I had it in there as a shim to stop the leaking Flushmaster valve in the toilet. I told her to remove the hanger when she had to go to the bathroom, then after the tank filled up, place the hanger under the Flushmaster internal valve arm and put the lid back on the toilet. She looked at me with a puzzled look and said……….” that is not going to fly, Pat.” So I eventually did learn how to replace a toilet valve. One of my limited skills due to necessity.

However, duct tape has been my saving grace for many a rig job over the years. Take ski gloves for instance. If you ski, you know that these gloves take a beating from handling skis in the winter, carrying luggage, and basically used for keeping the hands warm. When they start to go, I duct tape the fingers which tend to wear out first. It saves the gloves for a little while longer to avoid the expense of constantly replacing them. To the fashion conscious like my wife, these look terrible after a repair job. I try to use black duct tape to blend in. It tends not to alert the fashion police who would arrest you for using the standard silver duct tape. I tore a brand new jacket skiing in the trees at Alta one time and fortunately had a roll of the coveted black tape with me for an instant repair. No one noticed except my wife. I still ski in that jacket.

One time I was skiing in Deer Valley, Utah a rather high brow ski area if there ever was one. The high rollers tend to be attracted to Deer Valley where they valet your skis, the food is really high end in the ski lodge, and the grooming for all the beautiful people is impeccable. Much to my friend Norm’s chagrin, I was skiing in my favorite ski pants with silver duct tape covering a tear caused by a collision on a crash with my ski edge. We were chatting with several female trust funders and Norm was aghast that I was sitting there with silver duct tape on my ski pants. Later he inquired why I would ever ski a nice place like Deer Valley with duct tape on my pants? I responded that I liked those pants and if someone judged me by the character of my ski clothing, they were not worth the acquaintance anyhow- plus, I ski circles around them. Those pants are still in the closet today and I bring them out with the torn jacket for matching duct tape attire.

My son recently remarked that the duct taped rust holes on my old Jeep was an indication that perhaps I needed to trade in the old Jeep and get a new one which I eventually did. But the black duct tape did the trick on the tail gate and as I explained to my son, it gave the old Jeep character. He just shook his head and walked away. My rigging was lost on him. Like many things.

Some other famous rigs- my old Docksiders- when the sole broke away- duct tape. The smoke alarm door that never closes- duct tape. The poorly designed break away Leki ski poles- duct tape the handle to neutralize the break away feature. Duct tape book binders. Duct tape a battery to the mountain bike frame when the strap breaks on the battery cover. Duct tape a hole in the garbage can. So many rig jobs available when you have the skill to just roll that black tape. My wife usually finds out and forces me to either buy something new or repair it properly, but in my hectic life, there is nothing like a rigged duct tape job. It gets you by when you need it and gives you time to contemplate what it would take for a proper repair. I am not a slave to fashion much to Janet’s dismay, but if I can hide the rig job for at least a little while, I have achieved in internal victory of some kind.

So, why fix something properly when you can rig it? Well, that philosophy is slowly waning and I guess in 2018, one of my resolutions is to try to be better at home or general repair. If not, ……….rrrrrrrrrrrrrrippppppppppp. Out comes the tape. Have a happy New Year and rig something. Thanks for rigging or…..reading.

Ski Camp for Old Guys

As we pulled into Huntsville, and exited the vehicle after a great day of skiing at Snowbasin, we ran into the town drunk who cheerfully slurred and pointed,”  in there- the best cheeseburgers in town.”  I knew he was right because I had been there before but some of our posse had not and we all were treated to the simple fare of cheeseburgers, chips, and beer at the Shooting Star Saloon.  Check out their sign.IMG_0097  Aside from the ceiling filled with dollar bills and the “jackalopes” mounted on the wall( mythical jackrabbits with antlers), the St. Bernard head mounted on the wall that was accidentally shot after rescuing 11 skiers trapped in an avalanche, and the lone pool table, the oldest tavern in Utah survives on simple fare and simple customers.IMG_0096  A great place for us to relive the days exploits at Snowbasin- the site or the 2002 Winter Olympic speed events for skiing.  IMG_0088

The five of us who get together every year are avid skiers.  From left to right we have Mark Hutchinson(our historian and former race coach at Stowe), Eric Durfee( our ring leader and organizer from Lake Tahoe via Vermont), Proctor Reid( ex ski racer from Dartmouth who grew up with Hutch and Eric in Vermont), yours truly, and Bart Smith( our host this year from Park City and ex Cornell racer along with Eric) Our missing member this year was John Ingwersen, another ex Cornell racer.  Traditionally we have gone to Tahoe but seeing that the conditions were bleak for the second year in a row, Bart generously offered to host the group at his place in Park City.  This group is a passionate one.  Much like guys who go on golf trips, fishing trips, or hunting trips.  Comradery is the key component to any outing like this but our group also values time on the hill.  These guys are bell to bell, first chairs and last chairs up the mountain for the day.  It is hard to chronicle the enthusiasm. It really is something to experience.  Skiing is not just something this group does, it is a lifestyle.IMG_0178.JPG  Sitting around the apres’ places having a beer and eating a buffalo burger, you hear some great stories about ski racing in New England, and relationships with some of the big names in the ski world.  Hutch and Eric’s old friend George Tormey was the K-2 ski rep for years as well as a race coach at Stowe.  The K-2 Four ski was made available to Bode Miller originally to race at Sugarloaf in the Junior Nationals.  Bode won by a large margin in most of the events including the speed events using the conventional K-2 Four shaped ski.  It was innovative at the time and Bode wanted to use them.  The only other pair available went to Travis Durfee- Eric’s son who was a top ranked junior racer in New England and eventually made the Far West Team when the family moved to Tahoe.

Sitting around Bart’s table, one can continue to hear great ski racing and ski instruction stories from the past and the single focus of our week long adventure is skiing, skiing, and more skiing.  We wake up and decide which area we will ski for the day, eat breakfast provided by Bart and his wife Joe in absentia( she went to visit her mom),  ski all day hard usually in a fast pace line weaving through unsuspecting skiers on the mountain, having a beer and something to eat, showering, watching March madness and retiring usually at 9:00 at night.  No night life on these trips, skiing is too important and our fearless leader makes sure we are first ones in the parking lot and first on the chairs.  Pretty good for a group of  in shape guys that just turned 60.  Bart is a year older but he is the strongest one of us all.  First time I met Bart was years ago when I saw him launch himself straight into Corbett’s Couloir in Jackson Hole while we were trying to inch our way into the couloir from the side.03jack395.2  I said to Eric,” Who is this guy?”  Eric said, ” you will find out a lot about Bart.  Try to keep him in sight.”  A true strongman and powerful skier.  Age means nothing in this group.  All good skiers.  All strong skiers.  Jokingly Bart said one morning, ” this is like summer camp for old guys.”  The great thing about this annual gathering is that none of us think about anything else but skiing hard, laughing, and reliving old times.  Eat breakfast, ski, have a beer and something to eat afterwards, relax and do it all over again the next day- just like camp!!  Lots of sleep and up with the birds.  Might not be interesting to many people who include other things on ski trips, but for this group, this plan works just fine.

Friendships like this are rare and should be cherished.  When you start to lose friends like I have this past year, these get togethers are even more important.  You never know what will happen in life, but if this group has anything to say about it, the conditioning and the all out enthusiasm will keep us going for a long time.  We don’t think about age.  We think about challenge and keeping it all going.  Hopefully you are fortunate enough to have a group like this.  Work at the friendships and keep outings like this alive.  Thanks for reading.