This year's groups skiing adventure took place in Ischgl in Austria, the equivalent of Switzerland's Zermatt or Canada's Whistler. Although for Austria Ischgl is a rather fancy skiing village, compared to Swiss fanciness - price and quality - it was nothing out of the ordinary.
You had two apartments connected to a five star hotel rented for the week with enough beds to share, including permission to use the hotel's wellness area. As fun as going skiing in Austria for a week is, and even if the descent run stopped directly at the front door, lazing in the wellness center with sore legs each evening was the best part. The place had been recently built and had two saunas of different temperatures and humidities, two steam rooms of different aromas (mint and something flowery), two relaxation rooms with waterbeds, an infrared back-warming cabin for two, and an ice room! Within your international group certain cultural differences were especially noticeable when wellness'ing: Austrians and Germans sauna naked, French do not. The first time you felt a little unsure about letting it all hang out; that was until a pair of Austrians strolled in tits-out, and suddenly you were the one fitting in. Your French friends in board shorts slinked quickly out to remove their trunks. A win for nudity!
There were a lot of Russians there: fat, rich men and their barby-doll women, or very loud and drunk snowboarders. You're sure the ones you met were the exception, being fat and loud, but those types stand out. There were also drunk and loud Brits, Austrians and Swiss, but they all seemed to make a quieter fuss. Overhearing one conversation between two British blokes about their drunken bar brawling of last night, yelling at bar tenders and being kicked out of several establishments, upheld the stereotype they're all drunken hooligans. Overall, the British made the worst impression.
The skiing started on Sunday with very bad icy snow and huge areas of uncovered brown mountainside. It began snowing Monday (you went snowshoe hiking), which prepared a reasonable sheet of new snow for the rest of the week, but by Friday it was icy again. Overall the snow situation was reasonable by your standards, but for the Austrian Alps it was a bummer of a year. You had to wear your wrist brace all week which meant you could only wear one glove. This was not only cold but awkward, because you kept your bad hand behing your back and had to make do with one pole. Everyone said you looked like a butler.
Each day on the slopes you used your shiny new GPS to map your path. It recorded the complete day's movement, let you project it onto a 3d map and play it back. It was interesting to see each run's speed and total distances made each day. You decided to make you goal 100km total distance in one day. To achieve this you basically took no breaks and ate snow along the way to keep cool / rehydrate. At the end of the day after 7 hours of non-stop skiing, max. speed 89.7 km/h, 103.8km distance (including lifts) and 12294m descent you didn't just feel tired but also kinda broken.
Cooking in the apartment was not too bad, even for eight people using a small kitchen. You jumped in and cooked spaghetti bolognese the first night - a planned tactic to avoid cooking after skiing during the week. You made enough pasta for sixteen people and most of it burnt to the bottom of the pot. This congealed mass was removed a few days later and met with many uurgh!'s and yuck, that's disgusting!'s. One evening you ordered a tower of pizzas (no left-overs), while another night went you out to a nasty little Austrian place with hideous music, undrinkable house wine and not especially friendly (and not at all attractive) waitresses dressed in lederhosen. The big winner was the gin and tonic drink with cucumber Mic was mixing. He explained the cucumber with a "first time in a Zürich bar, thought I was getting a salad, tasted good anyway" story. Most nights you all played Uno and/or very fiery games of Ligretto. It became intense to the point you'd throw your card to the table and it would be deflected mit air by another players play. It was a thousand times more effective than coffee to wake you up. During one game of charades Sandra tried to mime out dentist with an open mouth and pretending to be holding 'tools'; the answer secretary seemed more appropriate ;)
You spent one day outside just taking photos of other skiers. It was worth it to see the various stages of of speed vs. age vs. fear for different randoms. Amusing. You set up near the air mattress ski jump and took some high-speed photos, then later stitched them together. Near the end of the skiing week you stood there again to watch some idiot try backflipping before he left the jump and knock himself unconscious, fly through the air rotating, and land with a flop. No one noticed he was knocked out for quite a while...
Summary: injury-free fun holiday.
Immediately following the skiing trip, you went back to University Hospital Balgrist to have your screw removed. Your 6am appointment was at a sleepy time of morning, but worked to your advantage since you fell asleep until sometime during the operation, then nodded off again until after it was finished. Although only a 5mm cut was being made, you were given sedative, made to wear an operation gown and had to shave half you arm. Annoyingly the nurses decided you didn't shave enough and trimmed the other arm too. There were two memorable times being woken up during the whole thing: being wheeled through the hospital trying to think away a post-nap erection; and when the anesthetist used his electric needle probe to progressively shock-numb your arm (precaution due to heart proximity). Ever heard of an electrified 20cm long anesthesiology needle? Pray you never need see one. They drive it slowly into your shoulder sending shocks at varying depths to probe the affected nerve. At first your whole arm jumps, then just your bicep, hand, and finally fingers - that's when they inject the first dose! They slide it slowly out, repeating the shocks until all nerves are numbed. Delightful! You're now metal-free and attending regular physio.
Gunnung, Chu, et. al.
There seems to be a balance between being smart and motivated. The unmotivated idiots are best ignored, motivated idiots are horribly misguided, while the smart and motivated people burn out. It's not often you meet a teacher who's both smart and motivated, and can maintain their motivation for any length of time without going nuts. You had a teacher in year three called Mr. Gunning who was nuts. He was old-school strict, in that he's pull you out of class by the ear if you spoke during class, and smash your pencil into the desk if it wasn't sharp. Kids were scared of him and parents hated him, but no one could fault his results: he was teaching his year three class at a year five level! Somehow he was able to capture people's attention and in that moment, when most receptive, teach things people will remember. Perhaps his overzealous discipline was a factor; maybe his students payed more attention because they were too scared of being caught talking or playing. Perhaps he was just good at explaining things in a way his class could understand. Who knows... You started appreciating him in year four when you had to go back to pointlessly easy schoolwork being taught by an unmotivated non-nuts normal person.
University second year maths was taught by Dr. Chu. Everybody hated Dr. Chu because he had the nerve to demand people pay attention and do not speak in class. You were convinced he had super-powers. His special abilities were eyes in the back of his head to watch for students not paying 100% attention, super-hearing which could detect the slightest murmor of discussion or post-disciplinary-yelling complaint, and millimeter accuracy aim throwing chalk at students. If you said a single word in class - related or unrelated to the work at hand - he'd turn sharply 180° and launch his chalk at the disorderly student.
You! Boy! (or girl) You be quiet in lesson or you get out! Uni Chancellor my friend long time. He back me if I kick you out! I don't care! Go cry outside!
For whatever reason, people did well in his class. You remembered everything he said - even his stories about his village in China, about his shanty house with flimsy walls, and about his walk to school. You remembered his explanations of differential calculus, but most importantly you understood every word he said. Everything coming from this Chinese nutcase with bad English and a chalk-throwing habit made sense because he was a good teacher. Students often took his offer for after-class Q&A time, and he did it diligently with genuine interest. Some years later you got wind he was fired for making students cry (or something like that). It was the same situation with Mr. Gunnung: he shouted and made people cry but got amazing results. Unfortunately he too eventually lost his job, which you found profoundly sad. You're thankful for meeting them both, the motivated nut-cases.
PS: Amusing sign