PATRICK MCVAY

WRITER

My Musings

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New Year's Resolution!

I’ve decided to change my name. In spring or summer of 2013 (or by fall at the latest) I will petition the court to change my legal name to “Rick Wheelwright,” or perhaps something else. I haven’t settled on the exact name yet.

Rick Wheelwright suits me, I believe. Rick is the second syllable in “Patrick,” and since I’m in the second half of my life (true, with medical advancements this might still be the first quarter of my life, but let’s say second half and maybe I’ll be surprised), there’s some symmetry there. Also, during my much needed holiday break, I built a bicycle wheel for the first time in my life. I am now an actual wheelwright! Except maybe not, because I haven’t properly dished this wheel. Dishing is the part of the wheel building process where you curse in front of your children because you don’t own a dishing tool and didn’t really believe one was necessary until you put the “finished” wheel on the bike. (Oh, sure, cavemen built wheels without a dishing tool, but they didn’t have gears.) Also, I discovered that my spokes weren’t tensioned nearly enough, so I went ahead and tightened everything up such that now this wheel is out of true again. So, yes, I have to work more on this wheel.

Still, by virtue of the number of hours spent on this wheel (many!), I feel I have earned the license to call myself “Rick Wheelwright” and will proceed with the legal name change process for myself and my two children once I get all the forms.

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Whistler

I’ve skied some nice resorts – Park City and Deer Valley in Utah – but mostly I ski the northeast, which is great fun, though the conditions can be iffy. It’s probably not going to get easier, of course. The oncoming warming trend is not great news for an area that already has limited quantities of the white stuff.

I’ve skied Mt. Saint Anne outside Quebec City, and Tremblant in the Laurentians, but never the Alps, or western Canada. I’ve long wanted to ski the Canadian Rockies, or do a combination Whistler/Vancouver trip.  Part of me says climate change will alter the course of evolution in these places, so I probably should go now. On the the other hand, it’s expensive, and my wife doesn’t ski much.

With this in mind, it’s a wonder that I even bother teaching my kids to ski. You’d think I’d encourage chess, or more television. Those hobbies aren’t likely to be wiped off the face of the planet in the coming years, or available only in the polar regions. Also, they’re a lot cheaper. But I nevertheless feel the pull of the rope tow, yanking me out of the house, into a car for several hours, and up the mountain. I might as well enjoy what we still have, I’m thinking, and offer the kids the opportunity to enjoy it as well.

Taking the family to ski Whistler isn’t an option now, but I’m getting omens that it might be one day. My son, who is 7 and entering his 4th season of skiing, recently became a whistler in his own right, having learned to make a little noise through puckered lips on the car ride back from New York last weekend. He’s been practicing for hours a day now, occupying the pleasant quiet that otherwise would be present while he builds his lego models, reads books, and reconstructs Hot Wheels tracks. Maybe it’s a sign of things to come.

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Custard Pie

When young lovers of rock music discover that I was born in 1964, among the first things they wonder is whether I ever saw Led Zeppelin. Sorry, no. I’d have been 13 in 1977 when they last toured the US, and anyway, they didn’t come to Syracuse, NY, where I raised. Sure, I was technically old enough to see Zeppelin, but for all practical purposes I was unaware of the band in 1977, even if I knew a song or two, and I was in no position to thumb a ride to New York or Philadelphia, where they played.   By 1980, I was a huge fan and was planning to see the band in Buffalo at Rich Stadium. Alas, John Bonham died that year and the concert never happened.

But since most people don’t know those little details, I want to claim that I saw Led Zeppelin. I want young rockers to envy me the way I envy people who have had their plays produced. I want them to point me out at parties and remark to one another that I witnessed the greatest band in the history of rock music. Part of me honestly feels like I could get away with lying about it. Who is going to look up Led Zeppelin’s 1977 concert tour dates (besides me)? No doubt someone would, exposing me as a fraud and causing a scandal, such that this website suddenly gets millions of hits and I become famous. Then, using some internet advertising scheme, I make tons of money. But, alas, I’m a bad liar. (So please don’t ask if I ever saw REO Speedwagon).    

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Last Minute Gift Idea: Drinking Gloves

I’m not much of an accessorizer. The most I ask of my belts are that they hold up my trousers and not look like lengths of frayed manila rope that I found in a dumpster. I own a nice watch that was a gift, but otherwise the only jewelry adorning my body is an unusual wedding ring that is made of 3 hoops twisted and fused into one, the constituent bands representing me, my wife, and my unseen “inner self.” I own a bike and have lots of accessories for it, but these are entirely practical in nature, such as the headlight designed to blind oncoming bikers, and the rack that’s used to haul all manner of goods and children around town.

The one accessory I do have plenty of, however, are gloves. I have biking gloves, which some people think are a frivolous waste of money but I assure you are not: winter biking gloves keep the fingers nice and toasty, and summer, fingerless biking gloves make my ride go about 15% faster (that’s an estimate). I have two pairs of fingerless typing gloves because my employer is going green by keeping my office around 50 degrees. Also, I like to look like I hang out near the railroad tracks on the outskirts of town in my spare time, making fires in old metal garbage cans, a wool watch cap yanked down to my ears. I have golf gloves (which are all but unnecessary but help when you want to look like a white, middle-class dude), ski gloves, hot oven mitts, leather work gloves, gardening gloves, “examination” gloves (not for what you think), and neoprene gloves that I use when working on my bike.

On the other hand, I do not own a single pair of drinking gloves (!!). Consequently, I occasionally drop a beer, creating an awful mess of foamy liquid and broken glass, which causes my kids to haul out the breathalyzer. If any of the thousands (millions?) of you out there who follow this blog haven’t bought me a Christmas gift yet, please consider drinking gloves. Not only will they improve my grip on the beverage I’m drinking, but they’ll also reduce the transfer of heat and cold from hands to beverage and vice versa. Drinking gloves: practical, inexpensive, and, when monogrammed, quite personal.

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