Why, Yes. In fact I have been wearing a mask. My boss insists.

So I went to the doctor today. I had a rash in the mustache area on my face that was sometimes bright red enough to actually show through the mustache. I thought it was just dermatitis since I am prone to that but my usual treatments (hydrocortisone cream) weren’t helping and I figured they might have something stronger to deal with it.

Turns out that it was a staph infection. According to my doctor “we’re seeing a lot of that from all the mask wearing–creating a warm, moist environment for bacteria to grow.”

I predicted this kind of thing a year and a half ago. What I did not expect was to be an example case. In any case, I’ve got a course of antibiotics to deal with the infection and we’ll proceed from there.

Two lessons:

  1. Masks suck. Wearing masks did not stop me from getting COVID last December, and wearing masks led to a staph infection this December.
  2. Even if you think you know what that odd rash is, it might still be a good idea to get it checked by a doctor. If I hadn’t I would never have known and the infection might well have spread.

Goth on Ice: My Journey to Skating

The first exposure that I really had to ice skating, figure skating, was watching Dorothy Hamill at the 1976 Olympics. I was 15 at the time.

Incidentally, Ms. Hamill was the last women’s figure skater to win the Olympics without a triple jump.

I may have seen figure skating before that, but it made no impression on me and I don’t really remember. So this was what first put figure skating “on my radar” so to speak.

Along about that time, I saw some other kids skating on a frozen stream and somewhere along the line I saw a bit from a movie about Hans Brinker where the main character mentioned making skates from wood but he couldn’t skate for long on them because the wood absorbed water and swelled. One of the plot points was that he needed good skates to enter the race and, hopefully, win the silver skates. To be honest, I tried to make wooden skates but, well, it didn’t work.

And that was it for a while.

A few years later, I saw the movie “Ice Castles” (original 1978 version staring Robby Benson, Tom Skerrit, and Lynn-Holly Johnson).

Do I need a spoiler warning on a 43 year old movie? 😉

I didn’t see it in the theaters when it came out but rather a couple of years later While Hamill introduced me to the idea of figure skating as something to watch other people doing, and while the short bit of Hans Brinker got me curious enough to try (and fail) that “wooden skates” thing, it was this movie that really lit a fire in me to learn to skate. I saved up money from my summer job and scraped bought a pair of skates from Montomery Ward (then still a going concern). The skates, to be honest, were junk. The blades were neither screwed nor rivited to the sole but molded into it (how they were fastened internally, I have no idea). Not much I could do with them until I made a trip out to a friend who lived in Phoenix Arizona. One of the malls in the area had an indoor rink and it was there that I first went to skate.

I had no formal instruction, just messing around on the ice and using descriptions from books and…well, I got to where I could do basic forward stroking, something that sort of looked like a forward crossover, and a not-bad T-stop. Couldn’t skate backward at all and my one-foot work was abysmal. Still, it was something.

For a while I tried to relocate to Phoenix. I had just turned 18 and, legally an adult, I enrolled in school locally and went looking for work, making a little bit of pocket money by mowing lawns. And, whenever possible, I went to the rink and skated. Badly, perhaps, but with great enthusiasm.

And those skates I’d bought? Within two sessions on the ice I had to discard them. One of the blades came loose and would wobble, making the skate impossible to control. And with the blade molded in, there was no way to tighten fasteners so…cheap junk was cheap and junk and ended up being a complete waste of money. (A lesson for any would-be skaters out there.)

In the end the relocation to Phoenix failed. I ended up returning to Ohio. The community I was in had no real rink. In the winter, when it was cold enough, they’d flood one of the outdoor basketball courts and let it freeze so people could skate on it. If that sounds horrible, it’s because it was. But, it was all I had and I did the best I could. Somebody gave me a pair of skates. The boots were worn out. The blades were dull (and there was nowhere to get them properly sharpened–I tried with a round file in the hollow but…I don’t think it really helped). Again, all I had and I did the best I could.

I think I only even gave that a serious try for maybe one winter before graduating from school and well, before another winter rolled around I enlisted in the Air Force.

While I was in the Air Force, I was assigned to a base in England for two years. While I was there, I discovered Queen’s Ice Club. And they had a pro shop with skates for sale. So I got my own skates. To be honest, they were probably no better than entry level skates but, well, they were the best skates I’d ever skated on. Between work and other interests I probably only had about a half dozen opportunities to skate at Queens, but I made the most of them. Again, all I really did was the most basic of forward skating, but I had fun at it. And, once again, no formal instruction.

When I turned 23, I was reassigned away from England back to the US. I never really found an ice rink at the new place. There may have been one but it never appeared on my “radar”. So, I set the skates aside and that was it for a long time.

In the interim I went back to college, got married, got a job, and moved to my current city and state. And I had largely forgotten figure skating. I don’t even know what happened to the skates I’d bought from Queen’s Ice Club. I know I had them when we moved here, but, somewhere along the line they disappeared. I think maybe my ex, my then wife, donated them to Goodwill or something. In any case, they’re gone.

Time continued to pass and my daughter took up ballet. Then, not long after the divorce (I have custody) she asked about starting figure skating. I was amenable even though money was tight and told her we’d try a few public skate sessions just to see if she was really into it before getting her into lessons.

And so, for the first time in something like 35 years I got back on the ice and…

Odin’s One Eye, skating is not like riding a bike. I couldn’t skate at all. However little what I’d accomplished before had been it was all gone. I was starting completely from scratch.

And it was a lot harder to re-learn than it had been to learn in the first place. For one thing, older bodies don’t bounce like 18 year old bodies do. Falls hurt a lot more. It’s easier to get injured. And injuries take longer to heal. Still, I persevered and got my daughter into classes. Soon, however, her figure skating classes started conflicting with ballet. There was another rink, however, a bit farther away but not completely out of reach, which had classes on another day and that one also had adult classes.

And so my daughter and I started taking classes right next to each other: her at 14, me at 58. I’ve continued since then, working my way up through the adult classes from Adult 1, where I started to Adult 6 where I am now, poised to move on to the actual “figure skating” classes which start with Pre-Free Skate.

And that’s the story of my journey into figure skating, a journey that from one perspective is decades long, and from another that has barely begun.

Goth on Ice: Trying the New Skates.

Some things I’ve noticed switching from my old skates to the new ones. The old skates were Riedell Motions with their Eclipse Cosmos blade (the slight “upgrade” available buying the boot and blade set). The new ones are Jackson Premier Fusion with Coronation Ace blades. (Links are approximate to show basically what I have and may not match details like size or color for what I have. These are Amazon affiliate links and I receive a small payment for purchase you make if you go to Amazon via one of those links.

First thing I’ve noticed is that, while I had foot pain issues (with my arches, I always have foot pain issues), they weren’t anywhere near as bad as the Riedell’s were when I first bought them. Second thing, is that the laces are actually long enough. I simply could not completely lace up my old skates with the laces that came with them, or even the next size up (120″). At first, I tried skipping a couple of holes to save a bit of pace and maybe relieve some of the foot pain but…that led to some deformity of the boot and probably contributed to their breaking down after only two years. For a while I tied to 75″ laces together to create something a bit more than 140″ (after accounting for what was used in the knot). Later, I found 140″ laces that, while not figure skate laces, served until I replaced the boots.

On the ice, there was definitely a learning curve. It took me a couple days (maybe two hours total ice time–half an hour the first time, a but under an hour and a half the second) before I got really confident with my forward skating and before I was ready to even try any other elements besides forward stroking and forward crossovers.

Backward has been a bit of a mixed bag. Backward pumps on a circle and backward crossovers (the latter tried for the first time today) seemed much easier and smoother than with my old skates. Backward edges, however, were a different matter. I couldn’t go more than two or three feet before having to set down the free foot.

I started working on backward one foot glides and, yeah, that was proving much more challenging than it had been but I started getting it. Along the way, I tried my forward three turns. Outside three turn was very nice, including the brief back inside edge coming out of it. The inside three turn has proven a bit more challenging but it was an element I was working to get consistent before the switch so I’m not surprised.

I haven’t tried either of my hops (side toe and bunny) and wonder what effect the larger drag pick and king pick on the Coronation Ace as compared to the Eclipse Cosmos will have. I might want to wear my headgear when I reintroduce the hops…just in case. I haven’t tried my spins either. So…that will be interesting.

So far there’s been a learning curve, but not as bad as I feared. The boots are getting more comfy as they break in. One “trick” I had to figure out is that when various instructionals say “tighten the skates on the ice every 20 minutes or so as the leather softens and conforms to your foot” the mean loosen and tighten as normal not crank them down tighter from where they are.

What really puzzles me though is why my backward pumps on a circle and back crossovers came so easily after the switch but the back one foot glides and back edges have presented such a challenge.

In Which the Writer in Black is Annoyed.

Sometime back in the late 70’s or early 80’s dying hair in “unnatural” colors came into vogue in certain segments of the population. It may have started with the counterculture, punk rock groups (at least that’s where I became aware of it) but spread out a bit from there. It reached a point where, while people might still make assumptions (because people always make assumptions), you couldn’t really say that someone with hair dyed blue, green, purple, or scarlet was part of such a group. It was gaining a small following in the wider community.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, while I was in the Air Force, I met a young woman with purple-dyed hair. On reflection, I think it was more of a purple tint since she didn’t bleach her darker underlying hair. On hearing that my co-worker’s sister (I think it was) had purple hair, my initial reaction was “I could never be interested in someone with purple hair” (quite prejudicial of me, but, well, I was young and stupid so what can I say?). However, when my co-worker had a bunch of us over to his house, she proved to be a perfectly nice young lady. And, so, that was my first introduction to the idea that people experimenting with unconventional styles, including hair colors, does not necessarily mean what many other people would have me believe it meant.

In a similar vein, there was an issue of World’s Finest comics (a series that featured team-ups between Superman and Batman). In the particular issue, they were looking for a missing heiress in order to tell her that she’d just inherited a fortune (if I remember correctly). At one point, and this sticks out vividly in my mind, Superman sees a picture of the missing heiress:

Superman: “She has green hair. Isn’t that some rebellion thing?”

Batman: “Used to be. Now it’s just fashion.”

And that’s exactly where we were headed. We were getting there. I was inspired to dye my own hair by a friend on the Book of Faces who died hers in bright colors which she changed up every so often. A writer of my very distant acquaintance had a “significant other” (they have since married) who also went with bright colored hair.

So I took to dying my hair black with a purple streak and found I liked it. It suits me in ways that my mousy brown (mostly gray now) hair never really did.

Only in recent years another group has taken up the mantle of bright hair coloration. It’s become something of a badge among the perpetually offended, the people who mark status by how many “victim points” they can accumulate allowing them to blame others (with heterosexual white men being the top of the “offender” pyramid) for why their lives aren’t perfect.

So, once again, instead of being a small but rather ordinary fashion trend it has once again become something about which people make assumptions. And those assumptions are nearly diametrically opposed to, well, me.

And that’s annoying.

I suppose I could lose the purple streak. But, dammit, that would be surrender and I’ll be damned first.

So I’m going to continue to wear my purple streak (occasionally switching it for other colors–bright red or blue, for instance). And I’m going to continue to not be part of that group that’s largely taken over the fashion.

I’m just stubborn that way.

In the Spirit of the Season (An Annual Tradition.


An annual tradition:

If you’re an Atheist or Agnostic who doesn’t like “Merry Christmas.”
If you’re a Christian who doesn’t like “Happy Holidays.”
If you’re a Jew who doesn’t like “Blessed be.”
If you’re a Wiccan who doesn’t like “God Be with you.”
If you’re a Muslim who doesn’t like “Gud Yule” or “May Thor hold his hammer between you and harm.”

I have one thing to say to you: Grow. Up. Take these things in the spirit they are offered, one of well wishing, and leave it at that. And on that note, may I wish you a very merry Christmas and may Thor hold his hammer between you and harm.

This Sikh gets it:


Gud Yule, everyone.