Friday, December 28, 2012

"SoCal, Thanks For Being So Gracious"...

A goodbye sketch!
Tomorrow we leave for 'da Bayou and so I thought this sketch was a fitting way to say goodbye to our Christmas vacation in SoCal and to thank all the wonderful people in my life here in California. Therese and I had a ball catching up with all our friends and their lives. I know we will wish we asked more questions about life in California and all that that entails.

You know, like... "Aw man, I wanted to ask him about his mom!" or "I wonder how her latest project is working out?" There's never enough time to remember all the questions you want to ask. I guess we'll just have to return again soon and next time, write down a better list of things to inquire about!

We thought today would be better spent just relaxing and getting "mentally ready" to return home. I pretty much just ate, cruised the internet and watched football...

I believe there's one last slice of pumpkin pie to put a final cap on today and the rest of our SoCal adventure.

Thanks to everyone for being so gracious. All the best to everyone in the coming year!

Copyright 2012-2013/Ben Bensen III

Monday, December 17, 2012

Number Seven in a Series of Collector Prints... Nixon Galloway!

A British aircraft for United?
The Viscount was the subject of numerous large orders including the United States when it was designed in 1953. Its smooth, vibration free ride, good operating economics and pressurisation contributed to its success. At speeds of 350 mph, it was the first turbojet engined aircraft and powered by Rolls Royce. The 48 passenger aircraft was purchased by Capital Airlines in 1953-54 for a cool 70.3 million dollars acquiring about sixty from the British based, Vickers-Armstrong, Ltd.

Capital Airlines, once the fourth largest airline, merged with United in 1961 making it the largest airline  the free world. Here, Nick must have preferred the Capital Airlines fuselage design to the United for visual as well as historical reasons. The Viscount flew for United for over thirteen years.

Copyright 2012-2013/Ben Bensen III  

Thursday, December 6, 2012

"My Little Ski Buddy"...

Two bad ass skiers!
Just the other day, I was at Gus's having breakfast with friends when I noticed on the Weather Channel that recent California storms dumped many feet of snow as well as caused significant flooding in the rural areas. I looked up to television to see water rushing downhill in some small town and then another reporter was straddling the Truckee River also predicting your standard Weather Channel doom. When I looked up again, there was good old Warming Hut 2 taking in and shoving out happy skiers while yet another reporter continued his report in the falling snow.

I only heard "three feet of snow" in that report.

Someone, as it always seems this time of year, is "reporting" on the white stuff at one of the numerous resorts. I guess this can be considered newsworthy, though it appears more like a marketing device than anything else to me. But this time it was a bit different... it was at Mammoth Mountain.

The sport is so much more expensive than it used to be. Every year, I'd take the family to the mountains for a four day weekend or spend an entire week with my SoCal friends up in Mammoth. I sure do miss the snow and that part of California. The report of snow and the pics of that ski resort reminded me of a story I used to use to illustrate how open minded children are to what we preceive to be difficult. The first example that comes to mind, nowadays, is how quickly kids understand the computer. They don't seem to need any instruction on how to manipulate the software, be it on a laptop, an iPod, or iPad.

Anyone who has memories of my initial introduction could tell you how bad a ski student I was. Sartorially resplendent in a old turtleneck shirt, an Goretex Air Force jacket and my wedding suit pants because the pants were polyester and would stretch more than regular jeans, I became known as the"mogul killer!"

People followed behind me because for that first week of learning, I'd fall, slide downhill for a few football fields and take out all the slope's bumps! It took me a month of Sundays to give up the snowplow version of skiing. It was hard for me to overcome what seemed to be detrimental theories like, at the top of the hill, "point the tips of your skis... downhill!"

And then, worse yet, "lean forward!"

But my son, all of four years old, took to the white stuff like it was his best friend. On his first week trip to the slopes, we put him in a kiddie class so we adults could ski unencumbered in the morning when the snow is at its best. We would then have lunch and either send him back to another class in the afternoon or take him to the kiddie slope for some family fun. My wife was not so sold on the whole ski idea to begin with and she made sure I shared her same concern with our child.

Well, you know how us guys are, right? I tried not to be that way!

I tried to protect his every move, up or down or sideways as he would ski up with me on the poma rope to the top of the slope. To be honest, I believe negotiating tow ropes are one of the hardest parts of learning how to ski.  But, once we got to the top of the slope, I'd release our son downhill with me skiing in front of him backwards just to make sure I could catch him if he fell or, worse yet, lost control of his snowplowing technique and go zooming downhill taking out little old ladies and ski instructors!

By mid-week, Brian seem to have the whole snowplow form down pat. It was always funny to see a group of little skiers cutting wide "S"'s with their skis pointed down hill in a "V" shape while their arms were outstretched with the ski poles dangling uselessly. You have to see it to believe how each leg is independent of each other negotiating each bump with an incredible suspension and all, in unison. It is truly amazing how, after being on earth for only four or five years, kids can pick up seemingly difficult physical tasks.

Well, it never once occurred to me that I was becoming a hinderance to Brian's advancing prowess. Basically, I was catering to the concerns of his mother more than anything else. By the end of the week, I think he had had enough of this parental unit anticipating his every move. Actually, he probably had had enough of all of this earlier in the week, but tolerated it because he didn't know how to nicely tell me what he thought. I don't know if he gave it this much consideration, but I often wondered if he thought since he'd only have one more day left to ski and he wanted to do it solo, he would have run the gauntlet and take up the challenge of telling Dad what he thought. I guess he figured it was now or never when, half way down the kiddie slope, he said as only a four year old child could...

"Dad, I really can ski better without you in the way!"

Copyright 2012-2013/ Ben Bensen III