Friday, March 23, 2018

Don't stop!

My biggest secret to good and continued fun skiing resides in the fact that, when I ski alone, I always endeavor to ski every single run non-stop, no matter how long or what obstacles come in my way.

This approach forces me to focus more and to treat every downhill as if it were, say a competition, like a slalom. This also forces me to improvise, to dodge unforeseen obstacles and in one word that my sound like a pun, “stay on my feet” at all times.

Try it and you'll soon start earning huge dividends!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Living without Facebook

Like 2 billion folks, I have been hooked long-term on Facebook and today, I decided to do something about it.

For too long, and like the rest of my Facebook friends, I was “the product” that made Mark Zuckerberg a billionaire by enabling him to sell advertising and help Trump become president.
What tipped the scale was learning about Cambridge Analytica and its ill-gotten Facebook data from 50 million Facebook followers that had no idea what was going on.

As a result, I've decided to deactivate my account. This is one good step to curing my addiction to that social platform. This essentially puts my account on hold, so I can restore it to the same state if I ever changed my mind.

One exception though: I'll continue using Facebook Messenger for the moment, a feature I find quite convenient.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

My buddy the coyote

Two days ago, during our morning stroll, we came across a coyote, crossing the road a few hundred yards away from us. The first time I had seen one within Park City.
In many ways this animal resembles a wolf, except that it exists in just one single species (Canis latrans) whereas the wolves come in two “flavors”; the gray wolf (Canis lupus) and the red one (Canis rufus), a critically endangered species.

Other than that, the coyote is much smaller that the gray wolf (15 to 50 lbs vs. 70 to 150 lbs), not as tall (21 to 24 inches vs. 26 to 32 inches) and its face is narrow and pointed vs. broad and blocky. Its ears are also tall and pointed vs. short and rounded.

Finally coyote are solitary while wolves are more commonly seen in back. Now you know everything about my stealth buddy!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Want to really make America great again ?

Not so long ago, the United States used to be the world's leader in about everything, but in recent years, its has been overtaken by the rest of the developed world. Even developing nations have been catching-up fast with America and are now ahead of us in several areas like infrastructure, for instance.

As a nation, we must keep on evolving if we don't want to be left behind and it should be done vastly differently than the way Trump would like it. First, our nation's constitution should evolve with a changing society and culture.

Too often, it has stood in the way of progress because we don't want to amend it intelligently. Instead, we are blinding ourselves with that false-belief of “American Exceptionalism”. With a little more realism, common-sense and humility, we could change all of that and adopt best practices as I was suggesting not so long ago.

We could also work on freedom from religion, not just “of” religion, and we might end up with a more enlightened society. Finally, instead of building a wall south of the border, let's make sure simple pedestrian bridges we build, don't collapse and kill Americans on the day they're installed!

Monday, March 19, 2018

My hitchhiking career

As I'm currently reading a book written by a buddy of mine, relating our common boarding school life, I was suddenly reminded of all the hitchhiking I accomplished during my tumultuous life.

That technical school was about 20 miles away from my home, and almost every weekend, I would hitchhike back home, rain, snow or shine, and get home within one hour or so. By any conservative account, I definitely logged some 2,500 miles that way.

Except for one spectacular “doughnut”inside of one the car that once picked me up, smack in the middle of a village, and a few scares now and again with fast drivers bent to impress me, all went well. By any conservative account, I definitely logged some 2,500 miles that way. I'd return to my studies every Monday morning in the safety of a scheduled passenger bus.

Then came the military. Again, hitchhiking was a real time-saver for me over catching a train, considering that the route was extremely chopped-off and complicated, as 10 different rides weren't uncommon on such a long itinerary.

That time, I must have covered more than 12,000 miles, transported by the generosity of random motorists. In spite of that huge mileage, I only suffered one roll-over accident, escaped sexual predators, got lucky with drunk, bizarre, insane and reckless drivers, and always made it home safely. Like in school, the return to the air-base has to be a reliable, overnight train ride.

In both situation, the clincher, so to speak, was the uniform I had to wear; this elicited compassion and tremendously increased my chances for a fast pickup.

After I got my own car, I quit hitchhiking for a while but relapsed in July 1971, when after an endless voyage on an Italian ocean liner, along with a colleague, we decided to hitch the 1,690 mile ride from Perth to Adelaide hoping to rejoin the ship after land-crossing the Nullarbor plain (Route 94 was then a dirt road). I got luckier than my buddy and made it to destination in a couple of rides and just in time to jump back on the liner. 
That must have been the apex of my career as a professional hitchhiker, minus two extra incidents that happened to me later on, one in Vermont in 1982, when my VW Passat ran out of diesel and I had to find a way to get some and similarly on the Italian “autostrada” south of Trento, in 1985, when I had to twice cross the busy highway at night, a gas can in hand.

Today, 17,000 miles later, I haven't decided yet if and when I will resume this exhilarating activity.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

My first winter in the air force

Just fifty years ago, the winter of 1968 was probably the worst time in my whole life. I was working on an air force runway, near Marseille, in the cold, battered by the terribly damp Mistral wind and thinking of skiing in my faraway valley, in the Alps, 285 miles north of that forsaken air base.

To kill time, I was learning English with the French method Assimil. I had only watched the 1968 Olympic slalom that Saturday, February 17, and anxiously followed Killy winning his highly controverted 3rd gold medal.

As much as possible, I would go back home on weekends to train for slalom at the base of the Pleney hill, in the hope of finally getting a coveted “Chamois d'Argent”, a ski school, Nastar-like test, that once obtained, would finally open the door to the first exam in the French ski instructor certification process.

That wasn't to happen until February of the following winter...

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Back to the future?

Last summer a school mate from long ago sent me an old class picture from 9th grade, and after spending weeks in trying to find out who was who on the old photograph, I had made the comment that “it would be interesting for each one of us to go back in time, and lecture these young kids about what we've learned from life and what they ought to look for and do, to shape up their future...”
I had totally forgotten about it until I was reminded by that friend two days or so ago. I liked the idea, and today, my plan is to act upon it.

I will contact all the stakeholders I know, and ask them to compose their recommendations to these kids by solely using true and proven experiences that have made them who they are today – not conventional wisdom, citations, maxims or generalities that haven't helped them in any particular way.

That statement should be somewhere between 350 to 1,000 words, in French of course and we'll then try to all explore how these recommendations – had we got them early enough and applied them – might have transformed the courses of our lives. If the results are enticing, some of us might consider... reincarnation!