Tuesday, April 24, 2018

A record winter?

According to friends and family, my hometown in the French Alps enjoyed a “record-breaking” snow level. Record-breaking?

Yes, according to some. Based on what though?

Nothing really tangible; just an impression, it seems. For me a record-breaking snow cover, in the seven decades I've been on this planet, transports me to the 69-70 winter and I have some pretty convincing photos to prove it.

On April 17, 1970, my brother and I went to our mountain village to remove snow from the family restaurant roof (A).

We can see what happened after we did this (B).

As we returned on May 10, 1970, there were still more than 12 feet of snow left (C).

Now, compare this to this year on April 17, 2018 (D) and you'll easily see that the difference isn't even close.

Bottom line: In the absence of photographs documenting a claim for snow depth, always be very skeptical!

Monday, April 23, 2018

In need of perspective...

Recently, Wells Fargo got slapped with a $1 billion fine, an amount that may sounds gigantic to most, but unfortunately, most media outlets failed to place that sum into perspective, which in the end makes it meaningless.

Okay, with the exception perhaps of NPR that mentioned that the bank in question had generated more than $20 billion in profits, we're all left in the dark.

Now, if you must know a few facts for 2017, Wells Fargo boasted $2 trillion in assets, $95 billion in revenue and $21 billion in profits.

To put this further into terms we all can better grasp, imagine that you are making $95,000 a year in income and manage to save $21,000 of it, a fine of $1,000 won't put you in the poorhouse!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Hunting in... Andorra!

Eighteen month ago, I ran a story about Luc Alphand and his hapless hunting adventures in Russia.

These days, the French ski and racing car champion complains that, as he and his family are still being harassed by anti-hunting activists, he is now selling the family hotel in the French resort of Serre Chevalier and will be moving to Andorra.

This spot is a mountain-principality further south, where he'll still be able to ski, hunt the Pyrenean chamois, know as “izard” (rupicapra pyrenaica), ride his dirt bike and enjoy the Spanish sun.

Last but not least, he will also benefit from Andorra's lowest corporate or personal tax rate in Europe that tops at10 percent, the lowest VAT rate too, at 4.5 percent, not to mention the absence of inheritance taxes among other perks. All in all, a pretty savvy move!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Risk management for older skiers

As we grow older, our suspension doesn't work nearly as well and when something break, it might take more time to heal, so it's no wonder if older skiers tend to slow down considerably and stay off dangerous terrain.
Then the question arise as to how much we (older folks) should tone it down as years pile up and that dilemma gets my undivided attention. I'd tend to see a bunch of answers to that interrogation. First, there's the good old instinct, of course, that peaks as we mature.

Then, there is the importance of keeping up with practice, and this will involve difference forms of “pushing the envelope”, like going as fast as sanely possible, not shying away from tough terrain and snow conditions, plus skiing as often as possible.

Finally, there's the big deal; the psychological threat, that is not to get intimidated by anyone and never lose one's resolve or composure as a result of it. That form of fear is the most damaging one, the hardest to isolate and quantify, so never let it ruin your abilities!

Friday, April 20, 2018

So much to do, so little time!

Quite often, my friends ask me how I spend all of my free time and when it happens I don't always know what to respond.

If there is one implacable truth it is that I don't have enough time to stay current on my “to-do list”.
This of course begs an important follow-up question: How did I managed to do all the things I did when I still was working?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

A brighter view of Brighton

Yesterday, I went to ski Brighton, a small ski resort that is less than 7 miles from home, as the crow flies, but stands 43 miles away by car and takes almost one hour to get to. The weather was very cold and mostly sunny, with some new powder that had fallen the day before.

I first started by getting oriented on the mountain and then ran into Ben, a 40 year old nurse, on his day off, that took me through the trees like a bat out of hell and I really surprised myself following him as well as I did.

He took a few spills on his way down, got me into a hole where hit the powder, but in the end, we all survived. I just think that for his own sake and longevity, Ben should slow down a bit, but I'm grateful that he provided me with superb guidance and entertainment.

Sure, Brighton offers 1,740 feet of vertical, is fairly flat and quite small, but that latest experience raised the dismal opinion I still had of that small resort only 24 hours ago! 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Let's go greet the marmots!

Less than 1.5 miles from our home is a large marmot colony, near a strip mall, that's providing us with guaranteed entertainment during our daily walk.

As we get out of the wooded trail, we hear their warning whistle, and as we get in view of their boulder habitat, they all start running for cover of freeze in place, hoping to blend-in with their background.

Much more so than moose or deer, Park City is a marmot-capital of sort, at least while the critters aren't busy hibernating...