Friday, February 24, 2017

My old Honda snowblower

We purchased our Honda snowblower back in November of 1990 for $1,418. Twenty seven years ago this was quite a bit of money and today, the same machine would at least set me back some $2,800.

Sure, there are plenty of cheaper machines around starting in the $1,000 range, but would they last as long as my old, red Honda blower has lasted ? Probably not.

When I bought it, I wanted an engine that would start the first time and that's precisely what that machine has been doing for almost three decades as long as there was gas in the tank.

Along the way there were seasons with little to clear and monster snow years like presently, but the machine always performed flawlessly except that day, before the age of internet, when it swallowed a fat, Sunday newspaper, but after taking it to the snowblower doctor, it did recover and has been performing like clockwork ever since...

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Ski Team event

I don't know if you watched the Ski Team event during the last World Championships in St. Moritz.

We did, we were happy the French won the day, but were not impressed by the overall format and I frankly don't think it should be given that much importance in the FIS calendar.

I used to be sold on it during the days of the World Pro Tour, back in the 70s and 80s, but have finally come to the conclusion that it is more fluff than substance.

I wouldn't be sorry to see it go away!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

When wildlife eats out...

Too much snow doesn't make wildlife survival easier and this winter, Park City has seen a lot of wild animals venturing in town in search of food.

Yesterday, as we were walking we spotted that calf moose kneeling and eating some chipped bark in a front of a house.

The animal saw us, kept on feeding and one house further down the street, the huge mom ambled towards us, paid scan attention to the two nervous pedestrians and rejoined her offspring.

 Okay, that's another day in Park City!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

What a difference 1,000 feet make!

Saturday was a miserable, soggy morning day in Park City, with a mixture of rain and huge snow flakes and skiing was the least thinkable activity a sane person would engage into. Yet, my wife pushed me out of my comfort zone and literally forced me out of the house to go skiing.

After braving the frozen mix that was falling down at the base of Park City, I soon was whisked into heaven when I reached 8,000 feet where powder snow was the only currency served to skiers.

I stayed all morning and just before returning to the parking lot, I skied into some untracked “plaster” that was quite a piece of work.
I returned the next day and was treated to great powder at the top and refrozen, cut-out ski runs at the conclusion of my skiing. All this made me think “if only Park City was at 8,000' instead of just 7,000'...”

Monday, February 20, 2017

When skiing looks so easy...

Both Marcel Hirscher and Mikaela Shiffrin are so good that they make world-class ski racing look so easy that it should compel the rest of us to follow their example every time we're on ski.
By being feather-light on snow, limiting ourselves to just the required gestures, remaining centered, anticipating turns before they come, absorbing shocks on time and working far less, we all will go a long way in skiing much, much more and better.

Thank you for the lesson you gave us all this past week in St. Moritz!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Cultural assimilation...

On Friday night, we were watching a TV show featuring a recently deceased comedian, and as we discussed the cultural influence comedy has in our lives, we also measured that, beyond any language barrier, culture represents a steep ascent for immigrants.
From there I thought of all the steps we had to climb before we finally could grasp all the intricacies and mores of the American way of life...

  • Deciphering: A first step for newcomers to a foreign country; translating the language, understanding the spoken word, getting down to the mechanics of basic communications... 
  • Discovering: Getting to see, explore and realize how different ideas, attitudes or reactions can be part and parcel of a new culture. This is still a stage of observation. 
  • Understanding: Spotting differences right away between one's own culture and the host country's. Drawing conclusions, measuring the gaps both qualitatively and quantitatively.
  • Assimilating: Finally getting a full understanding of what is going on. Adopting some traits that we find desirable or compatible with us, while rejecting others. Navigating in much greater comfort, playing on a bi-cultural register. 

From a timeline standpoint, these different steps will occur at various moments. As far as we are concerned, I would almost say that they have been equally spread over four decades of residence in America...

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Atomic numbers...

I'm not talking about the count of protons in the nucleus of an atom, which defines a chemical element in the periodic table, but I'm simply talking about the world's nuclear arsenal. Nine countries are thought to possess nuclear weapons, including North Korea, the new member of the club.
While both the USA and Russia have significantly reduced their inventory (which would be more than enough to destroy the planet several times over), America reached a peak of more than 30,000 in the mid 60s and the former Soviet Union broke the 40,000 mark in the late 80s.

Today Russia and the United States are believed to have about 7,000 weapons each, with about a quarter of these deployed, and most of the rest in reserve or set aside for destruction. I came to think about these spooky stats as I realized how insane and unpredictable both Putin and Trump are...