Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Picking the “good” trash pile...

The news magazine Frontline showed us an amazing documentary about our two presidential candidates.

It pitted on one side, a ruthless, narcissist Donald Trump against a power-obsessed Hillary Clinton and painted a dismal picture of both.

Yet, one is worst than the other, and we, the American electorate, have make a choice between the two. My wife and I have selected the less evil of these two alternatives. Like picking one heap of trash over another one.

We'll go for the one that's not as stinky and less radioactive.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The angry white man...

Like millions of Americans, I was glued to my TV screen watching the first presidential debate of this election season. I said “I watched”, and saw plenty of telling body language. Trump wasn't doing too well in that category, while Clinton performed close to perfection.
Donald Trump personified the typical “angry white man” he is so good at electrifying. He must also have experienced a bruising contrast between the sixteen sub-par candidates he crushed during the primaries, and the fortress-like wall he had to confront in Hillary, last evening.

His usual swagger and bullying technique didn't work well on her. She was in fact a much fiercer wall than the one he promised to build on the Mexican border...

Until last night, it was totally impossible to imagine the outcome of this first face-to-face, and evidently, the difference between the two was simply overwhelming. While I was a reluctant Hillary supporter until that debate, I now can see that this choice totally makes sense and I bet that, besides Trump, other losers might be all down-ticket Republican Candidates suffering from a lower voters turn out on Election Day...

Monday, September 26, 2016

My One Percent is richer than yours!

In America, following the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, we've been talking a lot about that rich “One Percent” of the population.

According to a recent study by the Economic Policy Institute, it takes a minimum yearly household income of $389,436 to belong to the club while the average earnings of America’s 1-percenters is $1,153,293, but this threshold varies a lot per region as a recent article in the New York Time just showed.

Around Jackson Hole, in Wyoming is where the richest of America’s 1-percenters live; its 1-percenters earn more than $2.2 million. New York County, or Manhattan, ranks second, with a $1.44 million, followed by nearby Fairfield County, in Connnecticut, with just under $1.4 million. On the oposite side of the spectrum, if your household makes just $97,000a year, you'll be a 1-percenter in Holmes County, Mississipi, or in Lamar County, Alabama!

Ski resorts counties are all doing well too and that of Summit, which is Park City's own, is ranked #5 nationally with an annual threshold income of $1,207,000 per family. We seem to even do better than San Mateo County, home of Silicon Valley where they earn at least $1.1 million.

Enough said, I need to go out to work now, if I want to be in the club!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Better Ski Resort rankings

I recently criticized the way Ski Magazine was conducted its ski resort by its readers based on the experienced thay had during the previous winter season. Beside letting the publication know that their format is neither fair nor helpful, we should encourage them to reform the way such tests are conducted.

For instance the tests should be a reflection of the entire community (i.e. Park City) and include both ski areas (Deer Valley and Park City Mountain). Aspen should follow the same template and at least include Aspen Mountain and Aspen Highlands.

North Lake Tahoe would include Squaw – Alpine and Northstar, while South Lake Tahoe would include Heavenly and perhaps Kirkwood. Banff with its enormous bed base would be the community connected to Mt. Norquay, Sunshine and Lake Louise, etc.

We should also know how that survey is conducted. How does the process work? How many questionnaires are sent? To whom (who's qualified to respond)? What's the total rate of return and the percentage distribution by resorts to make sure that there is a minimum of statistical legitimacy...

Finally, there should be some independent oversight to guarantee that the results are not manipulated to reward those sole adverting in the publication...

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Revisiting our former home...

It's just fourteen years ago that we sold our large home of twelve years overlooking the Park City mountains on American Saddler Drive in Park City.

Today, I got a chance to preview the massive remodeling our former abode had undergone over the past year. It's stands now even larger at some 6,300 square feet of area, with updated and beautiful finishes and captures even more views than ever before.
In the past 26 year, this home has seen our family, another one for a couple of years and a 9-11 widow and her kids for the following 11 years. Today, it's looking for a new household with a large family...

Do I feel regretful or nostalgic in walking back into what used to be our house? Not really, I now feel relieved that we've have substantially scaled down in view of this supersized dwelling that we could no longer afford!

Friday, September 23, 2016

A regimented motel

The Japan House in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho is quite unique in terms of the form of hospitality it offers the unsuspecting traveler. I booked the hotel through Expedia and still can remember that most of the comments were extremely good, particularly those about the quality of the breakfast offered, so with absolute confidence, I pulled the trigger and booked a room.
When we got there, the outside didn't look that fancy, in fact it was just your traditional American motel. At the reception, Kim, the owner gave me a very exacting order form for the next morning's breakfast. It took me a good five minutes to go through it (multiple options, but rigid flexibility) and a set time for showing up in the morning.

Then we got into the room. Quite clean, but lousy Wifi signal. I went downstairs and began bitching about it. We got it working. The TV was an old cathodic tube, low definition model that we didn't use, but it sure failed to impress us. Any remote chance of a view was blocked by the staircase, but the king size bed was very comfy.

The next morning, our breakfast appointment was set at 7:30 am sharp. Problem is that we came straight north from British Columbia and assumed that we were in Idaho (correct) and still in the Mountain time zone (wrong), because Coeur d'Alene's heart beats in unison with Spokane's and its Pacific time zone. Go figure!

So we had been up since 6:00 am, hungry and champing at the bit for our breakfast slot, so by 8:00 am mountain time, I went down to plead for moving up the time to 7:30 pacific time. In the meantime, my wife was wondering if we'd get at least two slices of bread and always re-assuring, I told her that “everything is gonna be alright”.

The lady of the house wasn't not enthused about my requested change of plans and told me that she could not run her business if every guest were as scattered as I was. Still she granted me an exception and authorized me to bring my wife downstairs for the meal at 8:00 am. When we got there, everything was measured and tiny.

It was a Lilliputian version of breakfast. The coffee mugs were small, the sausages tiny and we had two slices of bread each, but together they added to a third of a normal slice. Granted, we were offered coffee refill that we gladly accepted and it's only when we checked out that our hosts became very pleasant.

The guests from hell were gone!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

It sure pays to advertise!

It's always with great interest and anticipation that I open the October issue of Ski Magazine to discover how its readers have ranked the resorts they have visited the previous year. Even though, deep inside, I know these results have been heavily “massaged”, I always like to check how ethical, objective and truthful the publication is...

Boosted by a multi-million investment from Vail Resorts interconnecting 7,300 skiable acres, I was hoping that Park City would make it to number 4 or 5. In fact, I expected no less from our ski town that has grown to be the largest ski area in the USA. When I began thumbing through the pages, I saw that Park City had been passed by a list of destinations that don't come even close to its offering, not to mention areas like Whitefish and Winter Park, and was relegated to spot #13, which simply was unbelievable.

To add insult to injury, a rabid commentary, compared our largest resort to a “Frankenstein-stitched” job and, if anything, showed that the local Vail Resorts and Park City Mountain bashing had now gone national. During the season, I ski almost daily and meet lots of visitors on the lifts.

All the folks I talked to have been ecstatic about the Park City improvements and its connection to Canyons. Presumably, Mr. Pugh, who also appears to be a blogger for Solitude Mountain Resort, never experienced the kind of large Alpine interconnected resorts loved by modern skiers.

Put together, these observations suggest that the survey results where somehow "rigged", the comments slanderous, and that someone was out to hurt Park City. When I looked at which resorts had advertised in the publication, Vail Resorts and its affiliates stood conspicuously absent and payed the price for not patronizing it.

As an individual resort, Park City paid even a much dearest price. With Ski Magazine, there is no longer a firewall between editorial and ad sales; it's now “pay to play”, so more than ever, it pays to advertise if you want some decent editorial!