Sunday, October 23, 2016

Do you know what a “shotski contest” is?

Yesterday, the Wasatch Brewery was celebrating its 30th Anniversary in Park City. To mark the occasion, the local brewer had organized a record-breaking “shotski” event. For those who don't know, we're talking about a ski with shot glasses glued to it in which the participants need to tilt and drink simultaneously.

The origin of that practice is up for discussion; some say that the Park City miners invented it some 100 years ago, while others attribute its origin to Ernest Hemingway and his friends at the Sun Valley lodge. I've also heard it could be traced to Austria (Schnappski). Even some French claim the practice as their own product from the Alps (which I doubt very much, as I never heard of it until I came to America)

At any rate, the length of ski upon which the contest was held evolved quite fast; a 223 cm downhill ski proved soon to be too limited. Breckenridge, Colorado is notorious for pushing the envelope in the category. In 2013, 192 adults lined on 313 feet of Main Street held 64 bolted-together skis and drank from the shot glasses attached on them, a first world's record. In the ensuing years, a record of 881 drinkers improved upon that performance.

This is exactly what prompted Wasatch Beers to challenge the feat yesterday when they lined up 1,191 people on Main Street to raise one long 1,961-feet ski with glasses filled with Wasatch's Premium Ale. Cheers!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The first French Primary debate

A few days ago, we watched a replay of the center-right presidential primary debate in France (compared to the USA, we're talking about a "mild" Democratic party).

We were struck by the civility of the participants and their general acumen compared to the 17 “deplorable” we had to put up with earlier this year on the Republican side.

A true breath of Fresh air! Based on what we saw and heard, and keeping in mind that we are rather disconnected from French culture and current affairs, we liked Francois Fillon best, followed by Alain Juppé and Bruno Lemaire a close third.
We were not that impressed by Jean-François Copé and Jean-Frédéric Poisson; as for Nicolas Sarkozy, he appeared to be struggling pathetically while Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet had not much to bring to the party, except that she was the only woman competing.

If, as the polls suggest, Juppé makes it through, I think France will have a solid candidate, with just one caveat: He's even older than Clinton or Trump!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Trump's verbal abuse strategy

During this year's presidential campaign, Donald Trump as used verbal abuse as a very potent way to earn his way to the top.

At first, his sixteen primary opponents were so ill-prepared to his strategy and not smart enough, that they couldn't react appropriately and, in the process, disqualify the bully.

Hillary Clinton saw the danger looming ahead of time, prepared for it and was quite successful at neutralizing its effects on her and her campaign.

Swearing, yelling, insulting, threatening, ridiculing, demeaning, and criticizing (the tools primarily used by Trump on his opponents) can be as harmful as physical abuse, said a report report published in the April 2007 issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter.

In that study, the researchers found that verbal abuse had as great an effect as physical mistreatment. Verbal aggression can exacerbate depression, anger and other grave mental disorders on its victims.

It is strange indeed that the media forgot to frame Trump's behavior in that manner.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Trump's last (?) stand

Last night, during the last 2016 Presidential Debate, Mr. Trump looked like he had picked up some bad sushi off a nondescript food truck standing on the Las Vegas strip.

Sure, debates are not an egomaniac's cup of tea, because there is an implicit need to share and transact back and forth. He was nasty and incoherent as usual and became more so as the evening wore on; at that point, he resorted to his trademark, usual verbal abuse towards his opponent.

I'm not even mentioning the fact that he's not sure he'll accept the outcome of the election, which is another topic altogether that clearly demonstrates that losing is out of the question for a “winner” like him. The net result is that he was so consistently bad that he made Hillary look great, smart and presidential.

The more he opened up his foul mouth, the better she looked... I was right all along, it must have been some foul sushi.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Baby-boomers last hurrah?

As a baby-boomer, I've always been partial to my generation and strongly believed that we couldn't do anything wrong.

We were the essence of change, the social revolution and would remain the bright future of society until death would get us out of the way. In America, the category includes individuals born between the years 1946 and 1964, which means people like me, aged between 52 and 70 today.

Our generation has been known for rejecting or redefining traditional values. In Europe and North America, however, we've been lucky to grow up at a time of widespread government subsidies, good education, full-employment and general affluence.

As a group, we also felt they we were the very best on the account of smarts, wealth or fitness, and strongly believed that the world would keep on improving with us and with time. Again, we thought of ourselves as a special generation, very different and much better from those that had come before.

On the flip side, we're often accused of the increased and excessive consumption that the world accounts for, including a humongous carbon foot-print.

Today, as the standard bearers of our generation happen to be both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, it's time to look at ourselves in the mirror, take a deep breath, observe the caricature we've become, look back and try to understand where we must have gone wrong along the way.

Thank God, the Gen Xers and the Millennium generation are now taking over!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The power of salesmanship

Last week, I got that call from my insurer's assistant, summoning me to come to their office for a “review”.

I told her that I wasn't interested in coming to that office, especially in view of the fact that after living 31 years in Park City as a State Farm's client for 40 years, I had never, never, never met my agent in person. I had only met his predecessor, very briefly when I moved to town, just before he passed away.

So my next question was to wonder if my agent even existed? I suggested that rather than going to HIS office, he'd be awfully nice if saw me at MY home, just to see how I looked like. Well, my insurance agent held me to my word and showed up at my house the next day.

This good Mormon was extremely amiable, just flattering enough and such a good salesman that he pivoted from the uncaring man I thought he was, to someone that was able to show me and prep me to consider one of his extra products.

I must say that I'm a sucker for good salesmanship and we'll see in a few days if he is able to turn a cynic into an eager buyer!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Vail's Empire

In its latest issue Skiing History Magazine has a wonderful article written by Seth Masia, that brings a comprehensive beam of light over the recent purchase of Whistler/Blackcomb by Vail Resorts.

This announcement that followed the purchase of Park City and Perisher Valley in Australia, made the entire company the second-largest in the world by acreage and the largest in the world in terms of revenue and the largest ski resort operation in North America in terms of size and revenue. Seventy-five percent of Whistler was purchased for $1 billion (the rest being still owned by Nippon Cable), making it the most expensive ski resort purchase ever.

It is also the only mountain resort in North America that is profitable all summer and that is extremely easy to access from anywhere in Asia. Vail's expansion began in 1980 with Beaver Creek and today the company controls 13 resorts, covering about 45,000 acres (18,000 ha) in three countries—the United States, Canada and Australia.

In terms of sheer size, this makes it only second only to Compagnie des Alpes which manages 11 ski resorts in France covering more than 125,000 acres (50,000 ha). Today, Vail Resorts is on track to post more than $1.65 billion in revenue for the next ski season, on more than 10.6 million skier-days. It’s about 15 percent of all skier-days in North America.

Revenue is another story all together, since it's twice Compagnie des Alpes' (695.6 million euros, or $785 million) on 13.6 million skier-days. True, the European behemoth gets only lift-ticket revenues, while Vail Resorts can count on food service, ski school plus both retail and rental operations. 
Where Vail was savvier than its competition though, was how it pushed the same-day ticket-window purchases steadily higher to make its universal season pass more attractive. When a day pass costs $175, it's easy to get skiers to buy its $809 season pass instead.

 In 2015-2016, Vail sold 500,000 season passes, valid at each one of its resorts which represent 40% of all season passes sold in North America. These season pass sales also represent 40% of the company’s ticket sales, and 15 percent its revenue!

The idea is simple: lock-in the market share and keep the Epic Pass skiers within the resorts that it owns forcing competitors to scramble for multiple-resort deals of their own...