Friday, June 29, 2007

Bottle opener sandals

It’s hot, you’ve got some good beer and can’t open the bottle because either you have no conventional bottle-opener, no strength left, or your beer bottle doesn’t have a twist-off cap. What are you to do? Use your teeth? I don’t think so. Just get a pair of special sandals with a built-in bottle opener and wear them all year round so you’ll never get locked-out of a good brew…

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


I returned from Europe last Wednesday after a grueling, long trip. My leg swelled a lot and was hurting. Traveling while nursing an injury is never a good idea; especially in summer! I’m now back and the blog will resume. Lots of project are awaiting me and I can’t wait to get them underway…

Monday, June 18, 2007


Eulogy read by Go11 at his mom’s funeral:

Thank you Mom for having given us life and support as well as being patient with us, while we grew up and found our place in society. Along with Dad, you’ve raised us by providing us strong values that have served us well, and that in turn, we have passed on to your grand and grand-grand children.

If life was never easy for you, you’ve always bravely faced all of its challenges. After Dad’s departure, you had to live alone for almost twenty years, and these six last months have been particularly hard on you, as you’ve seen yourself physically decline while remaining acutely aware of everything till your very last breath.

I want to thank my brother and sister along with their families for supporting you with their love, attention and care while I lived far away. Your hardship has brought us much closer together and has made us appreciate one another. We also want to thank other members of the family, neighbors and friends who have showed their genuine concern towards you during all that time.

Through your faith, we hope that you will rejoin all the folks you know who have already departed and that in their company you'll find joy and serenity. Good bye Mom, thanks for everything you’ve given us. We’ll miss you a lot, but you’ve left so much of yourself in us all that your presence will keep on illuminating our lives.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Sad news

Early yesterday morning I received several phone calls from my siblings telling me that my mom was very low and then had passed away. I scrambled to find a flight to Europe; at 2:05 pm that day I was boarding a Continental flight first to Houston, then Amsterdam and finally Geneva. I arrived in Montriond this evening at about 7 pm.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Where’s the economy going?

All over the world, stock markets have enjoyed an incredible few years, and seem to be maintaining their momentum. Why is that? It seems to me that the global economy has become a “de facto” situation and that all publicly traded companies are so globally intertwined that they can only benefit from the growth that is occurring in Asia, in the entire Europe and in the Americas. Will that last? Quite probably; this trend may go on for decades as room for growth is enormous outside of all industrialized countries. Let’s also hope that someday, Africa will be able to join that prosperity. Of course, there may be a few “hiccups” along the way, like geopolitical unrest, terrorist actions and the like, but by and large, I see the growth staying with us for a fairly long time…

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Opinions on Fair Trade?

Last week we saw a documentary on Ethiopians coffee growers struggling to sell their product on the world markets, using “fair trade” channels. Until now I only had a scant idea of what Fair Trade was and that movie prompted me to further dwell on the idea. At first glance, it seems to me that Fair Trade is a laudable undertaking, but when I dig deeper, I see it as a Band-Aid that typically addresses the symptom instead of the root causes of economic poverty in developing nations. It’s hard to go Free Trade and ignore the agricultural subsidies that prevail in the rich nations, the widespread overproduction and the fundamental market laws. Would vertical integration work better as an alternative to Fair Trade; i.e. a situation in which the producer would also be the paysant, the exporter and even the marketer, and would thus absorb the huge margins that are made by all the go-betweens piled up between the producer and the end-consumer? Instead of re-inventing the wheel, the current “fair trade” organizations should fine tune their action and aggressively pursue an end to subsidies in the developed world. They could also create and make available market forecasting tools that would direct growers towards goods in high demand and away from overproduction. Likewise, they could help them develop “niche products” as opposed to commodities and finally, whenever it's possible they should facilitate the development of an infrastructure promoting vertical integration.
Now, what’s your thought?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Bush, Albania's new King?

When George Bush retires in January 2009, instead of building his presidential library or hitting the lecture circuit, he should instead put his stellar leadership to good use and start running Albania. There’s no other place in the world where his popularity is so high. Besides, Albania’s current president, Alfred Moisiu seems like a reasonable man who would be delighted to trade his post for GW’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, including the use of all his toys like the big truck and the chain saw to name a few. Mr. Bush could then hand Sali Berisha’s prime minister job to Dick Cheney who in turn could get some lucrative state contracts for Halliburton; he would also be named minister of hunting and wildlife. Berisha would be sent to Jackson Hole where he could hunt the elk and in winter snowmobile around Yellowstone. Even Paul Wolfowitz could bring his girlfriend back; together they’d be great at siphoning badly needed funds from the World Bank. Rumsfeld would also return and be put in charge of border security, and since he's a consummate salesman, he would be charged with increasing drug and human trafficking to Italy and Greece in an effort to boost Albania’s GDP. Condi Rice and Laura Bush would both teach home economics in Tirana, while Alberto Gonzales, if he’s lucky, might be hired part-time to sell used Volgas and Trabants at a local dealership. Sure, our current president would have to adapt some and learn tosk, the local language, but the good news is that he would find it relatively easy; as an example “nuclear” is “nookulaare” in the tosk dialect. Same for religion; Mr. Bush would retain his staunch faith, but would probably evolve into an “evangelical Muslim” to be in synch with the majority of the populace. Of course, since the Iraq war is very popular with all Albanians, the new Bush team could send half of the Albanian army (that’s about 300,000 troop) to maintain an extended surge, without deadlines, and surely win the war on terror and turn Iraq into an extremely democratic country. So what are you waiting for Mr. President? Why don’t you become king of Albania now while your prospects are perfect and use that job to build the lasting legacy you need?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Getting better, faster

One thing I’ve learned out of my Achilles tendon rupture is how to get better fast. Since I was fortunate in not having to go to work, I could spend ample time to study and understand my healing process; in so doing, I discovered three important rules that, so far, have worked remarkably well for me:
1. Accept the situation. This is a critical step; if instead, we allow for too many “woulda, coulda, shoulda,” it’s going to take much longer before the healing process gets underway. Again, fully accept the situation, smell it, sense it, just make sure it is intensely experienced. Don’t let other people tell you otherwise, feel sorry for you or remind you how reckless you were. It’s your deal, not theirs. This decisive step builds a clean, unambiguous starting platform and clears the dead-weight of second-guessing and regretting.
2. Stay sharply focused. Thrust every resource available into the healing process, making it your single largest goal. Work on measuring progress and visualizing the positive, desirable outcome. Being competitive helps, but maintaining a sharp focus requires one’s undivided and relentless attention.
3. Push the envelope. This means strive to walk the delicate path between staying safe, while always trying to grab any opening for going a bit farther or for pushing a bit harder. The danger of relapse (re-rupture in my case) always looms large, so moving forward becomes a balancing act that demands both ability and willingness to manage risk effectively. This certainly is not for everyone, but if used wisely it may pay off handsomely.
So here you have the recipe to getting on your two feet much faster and with a lot more fun; just give it a try the next time you need it!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Scooter Libby & Paris Hilton

After being sentenced to prison terms, these two celebrities should share a cell for the forty some days that Ms. Hilton has yet to serve. Together they would learn some useful skills they can use the day they get out of prison. From her cell’s companion Paris could learn that in real life, someone has to take a hit for the stupidities of others, especially if it’s the V.P. of the United States (that’s called taking responsibility.) She would also learn to get her verbal delivery better organized, lie convincingly under oath and detract from her blonde appearance and instead, project a more professional image. Scooter would learn from Paris how to get more noticed, how to leverage paparazzi, how to project a charismatic image, and in the process learn to let his hair down. So when Paris gets out and Scooter is pardoned by George Bush, not only would the pair have had some good time together, but we might also have two better-adjusted human beings less prone, we hope, to societal pitfalls…

Saturday, June 9, 2007


For the past couple of years, Evelyne has been dog-sitting Tommy. His master who is also our neighbor flies a Boeing 777 between New York and Mumbai and is in up in the air for most of the time. Tommy, is a dog that we like so much that he has now become a part of our family; even though he can be quite mischievous at times, he is for the most part extremely loving and attaching. Today, we took Tommy for a 3.6 mile walk. When we returned he was ready to sleep for the rest of the day, and so were we…

Friday, June 8, 2007

Heart line

Between 2 and 4 p.m., I sometime listen to the streaming Swiss Radio (in French). The show that airs at that moment is called “heart line” and is moderated by Etienne Fernagut a great guy that I don’t know as well as I would like to, since I only met him on brief occasions while I still was living in Europe. What makes that show unique are the rich personalities of its host and his listeners. Etienne’s strikes a perfect balance between intelligent listening, compassionate silences interspersed with philosophical topics and a fine pop music programming. His radio listeners (mostly all Swiss, with the exception of a few French who sometimes eavesdrop) are extremely genuine folks who openly bring their life problems and questions on the air and hardly ever pretend being someone they’re not. I find the show honest, refreshing and very much human. Keep up the good work Mr. Fernagut!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

June snow, water and wine

Between yesterday and this morning, snow staged a counter-attack down to Park City (Other higher resorts, one valley away received eight inches). It’s not the first time the “Mr. Winter” tries these cool incursions as we get dressed for summer. The upside is that it provides us with badly needed water. We hadn’t seen a drop for the past fifteen days (yeah, I now keep a tally; my friend Denys Trombert from Essert-Romand inspired me to do it last year.) Since water is about to become as scarce a natural resource as oil in a not-so-distant future, better get used to liking H2O. Now, what has wine to do with snow and water? Here, in Utah we love snow and water because we are a desert state, and in our household we love wine too because we’re French!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Book to swear on

When the American president is inaugurated, he or she swears on the bible. That of course implies that the new president is a Christian. If the new head of state were Muslim, I guess the Koran would be used. As for me, even though I’ll never get to be president of the U.S.A. since I wasn’t born here, I can’t help but think of which book I’d swear on if I were inaugurated? Perhaps the Tao Te Ching (that’s my Taoist bend), but more likely a current Yellow Page Directory (I love these books and can peruse them for hours on end) or better yet, a repository of humanity’s knowledge like an encyclopedia. Would I go for the Encyclopedia Britannica? No, it's far too bulky! Instead, I’d bring up Wikipedia on some smart phone and would swear on the device; it’s more discreet and looks a lot cooler than an old book.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Time, health and money

These are three material elements in life that play an interactive role and influence our happiness. Of course, they don't take into consideration feelings and attitudes like fear, passion, love or depression that may color the final outcome. Let’s explore their various combinations from the really bad to the really good results:
- Having no time, no health and no money is dreadful with afterlife - if there's one - as the best hope left.
- Time without health and money is a tiny bit better but still makes bad situations feel endless.
- Having money without time and health adds another minute improvement as few moments are available to dwell on how bad things are and there’s only hope to buy a cure if, and when it comes.
- Having time and money but no health cranks things a notch higher; time affords to search for solutions and when found, money can buy medical care.
- Having health without time and money is not so bad, but can be frustrating as we can only get solutions that are cheap or free without time to search for them.
- Having health and money but no time is what most folks living in today's affluent and materialistic society have to deal with. Tied to the treadmill of work and conspicuous consumption, there's no time to smell the roses and probably no way to know fragrant flowers even exist.
- Having time and health but no money works for those strong individuals that survive on just love and friendships, beautiful sunsets or nice walks in the park. Just don’t try to go shopping!
- Finally, having time, health and money together is the best of all worlds. If you happen to be in that league, cherish your luck seven days a week and twenty four hours a day!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Another summer guest

Remember my blog from May 21? At that time I told you about the house finch couple that had settled inside our antique wicker, fly-fisherman basket under our back porch. Guess what? That family (the parents and their two chicks) decided to vacate their home 10 days later and sub-leased the place, without asking us, to a huge and menacing bumble-bee; all had met at a wing-repair shop a few days before they settled on a mutually beneficial deal. Today, I presented the new tenant with his eviction papers; we had to struggle for a while, but at the end, evicted he stayed. I then proceeded to pack the basket with air pillow bags and hang it back on the wall. Unless some flying squatter deflates each compartment with its beak, there won’t be much room available inside!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Global citizen?

I’ve always wanted to go into space to view our blue planet from afar. From what I’ve seen on TV, from space earth is pretty seamless and borders don’t show; from a distance, there are no ways to tell national, ethnic or religious differences. Would this suggest that humans should be able to roam free all over this blue planet? Wait a minute, this is getting very radical and going a bit too fast! We’re not ready yet for mixing all these folks; boundaries have to stay in place and we must control immigration. Look, as we speak we’re busy building partition walls between the United States and Mexico as well as between Israel and Palestine. What’s unbelievable is that on one hand we promote the idea of opening all markets for the common good, but we recoil with fear when some suggest opening up borders for people. As a dual citizen, I don’t feel particularly American or French; what should be my national point view is somewhat blurred and as a result I feel much comfortable feeling and thinking like a global citizen. It gets me over the morass of petty national differences. When I see all the suffering and the struggles through the world, I believe there could be a better way if we all shared more of the earth resources in an open and equal manner. Does that make you feel more of a global citizen too?

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Visit to Ikea

The first Ikea in Utah opened up around 10 days ago. We figured that if we took a tour late morning this past Thursday there would be very few shoppers. We were wrong; the place was mobbed, mostly by moms and their very young kids. We were amazed at several things; first the size; the place is a two-story “big box” that channels shoppers like cattle in a pre-ordaned flow so the surface area is maximized and so consumers are forced to see everything that is offered. Second, the overall style and offerings are decidedly European if not downright Scandinavian, and this might be a forceful element limiting Ikea’s American success. Third, Ikea's service is definitely European, meaning there’s none and all is geared to self-service; online is as bad too, with "Anna" the chatting "robot" which in many ways makes the whole process quite daunting and likely to scare off more than one shopper. Finally, the quality of their merchandise appears to be marginal and, for the most part, targeting the younger and budget-sensitive buyer. I personally liked their home office furnishing a lot and I might actually buy something from them to redo my home office if I ever figure how to put an order list together. Oh, I almost forgot; we had lunch at the store, the food was quite good and the price… dirt cheap!

Friday, June 1, 2007


As a two-person household, we use more than one thousand bananas per year. You read correctly, give and take one bunch, one thousand of these fruits is what we absorb in twelve months. This certainly contributes to keeping "banana republics" alive and well through Latin America, but the real reason behind our conspicuous consumption can be traced to my niece Valérie who showed our daughter a unique way to prepare the fruits, while she was visiting her in the French West Indies. Preparing bananas has become for us a morning ritual that has turned into a true addiction making us go banana… over bananas. Here’s how the process works: You take a rather ripe fruit (brown spots all over are a good sign of maturity) and you crush it inside a desert plate with a fork until it liquefies. No, you can’t do that with an electric blender; you’ve got to crush it with a fork and long enough so chunks disappear and all become fluid and smooth. The sauce obtained should rest for 30 to 45 minutes, until its upper surface turns dark brown and then you finally can appreciate it, rolling your eyes and purring something like: “Ah! So gooooood…” Like with any addiction, the main challenge with this one is checking-out a 20 lbs case of bananas going bad out of the grocery store with all patrons and employees strangely staring at you and asking over and over again: “What are you going to do with ALL these bananas?”