Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Moab, toy town

We spent the last three days in Moab, southern Utah, a remarkable little town. Situated four hour drive from Park City, on the Colorado River, it was discovered by the Spaniards in the mid 1700s, settled by the Mormons a century later and became famous for uranium mining in the 1950s. Today, it’s become a “toy town” with crowds of all-terrain vehicle riders. It’s also a great place for river running and it has become the de-factor mountain bike capital of North America - if not the world (Moab is famous for its “slick-rock” riding). To top it off, Moab is adjacent to two National Parks, Arches and Canyonland, and we just visited the latter Monday and Tuesday. Tourist season runs pretty much from spring to fall, even though temperatures can get very, very hot in summer. There are basically three types of visitors who come to that desert wonderland: Rednecks that ride motorized vehicles on dirt roads and slick rock (Jeeps, four-wheelers and dirt bikes), adrenaline junkies that raft, kayak and mountain bike, and pseudo-intellectuals like us – with many foreigners among them – who just visit the Parks…

Monday, October 29, 2007

Poor reaction to bad journalism

Sunday night, the French president went on the “60 minutes” news show, with Lesley Stahl, just long enough before he brutally put and end to the session and abruptly left the room, following a question on his private life. “An unpredictable and ill-tempered head of state” is probably the image that will remain with the American public. CBS’s “60 Minutes” newsmagazine was featuring a piece called “Sarko the American” in which Nicolas Sarkozy lost his cool, rolled up his eyes before he screamed at his press secretary and called him an “imbecile” among other expletives. Moments later, still under Stahl’s incredulous eyes, Sarkozy suddenly rips off his mike and leaves the room after one question too many about Cecilia, still his spouse when the piece was produced. It’s pretty obvious that Lesley Stahl was pushing the envelope in asking such a personal question at that moment, at any rate the botched interview showed the confluence of three factors: First, Sarkozy doesn't have a good grasp of the American culture to make jokes on the fly like he did and should have stuck to speaking French all along instead of showing off at times a marginal command of English. Second, his lack of self-control including the terrible manner in which he insulted his assistant is a telltale sign that the man is a "loose canon". Third, and finally, "60 Minutes" which used to be a good news show has fallen into the abyss of low-life “tabloid” gossip, which obviously is CBS’s problem, but seems the kind of media Sarkozy is ready to go after...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Unilateral time change

This morning I was reminded of my unilateral-thinking president and his unique hour change to combat terrorism, global warming and low-mileage SUVs - one week after the rest of the industrialized world - when I glanced at my bedroom clock while hearing the noise of our central heating kicking in at 5 am instead of 6. You see, our night table clock is only half-way smart by nowadays standards. It was programmed like your ordinary robot to tell the time changes for years to come before George W. Bush would screw it all up. Our kitchen atomic clock – which is a lot smarter - knew that and didn’t over-react by still showing the correct 6 am time. Perhaps, because it’s “atomic”, it heeded the influence of Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who, thanks to G.W. is now the authority in the nuclear matter, and by extension, more in the know when it comes to telling the right time than our "nukular" very own…

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The lure of mountain biking

In a previous post, I was talking about addiction to mountain biking. It’s a hard but quite complete activity and if you want to give it all, this sport certainly extends you a long rope to hang yourself; when the slope gets steep, it will suck all the energy out of you and then some. Without question, it “separates the men from the boys,” demands an excellent physical condition, and regular practice will definitely make you much better at it. At the beginning of the season, little hills are daunting; a few weeks later they lose their sting and almost become a walk in the park! Mountain biking finds a way to pummel and exercise the entire body, from shoulders to feet… Compared to golfing or skiing, you don’t need to spend a day on your bike; a good hour of riding can drain the most aggressive and getting to sleep that night is absolutely guaranteed and instant. Downhill of course is the reward for all the grinding work that climbing demands. It’s both exhilarating and dangerous. Riding single track requires your utmost attention, full participation and your ability to anticipate. There’s absolutely no reason or need to chat or listen to music. Unlike snow sports, where falling may occasionally happen, you don’t want to do that when riding your mountain bike and must pay constant and serious attention to your trajectory, your surroundings and your technique. In the course of any session, miracles never stop to happen as you dodge obstacles, improvise more often than not and seem to forever get lucky. Few other sports are as fun!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Little women phoning in huge SUV

These days, it seems that the smaller the lady driver, the larger the SUV and the most cell phone chatter. When I get on the road, less than two minutes pass before I spot a minuscule woman all alone in a huge SUV, spilling her soul on a cell phone. Would these charming motorists even use a hand-free device? Not on your life and those of their past or future road kills. In fact, they had a phone clamped in their hand and stuck to their ear long before they climbed on their monster truck.
What does that tell me? That the larger the vehicle, the best calls it must make, the safer it may seem, the most powerful it probably is, the greatest contribution it makes to pollution and global warming as well as to middle-eastern terrorism. Way to go tiny ladies! By the way mam, while using your moving phone booth don’t forget to keep an eye on the road…

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A "one-company" town?

Let me quickly set the stage for you. Park City has three ski resorts that are all different entities and are not interconnected (yet.) Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort are leasing their land from Talisker, a Canadian-based real estate company. That same Talisker is about to purchase and operate The Canyons, our third ski mountain that sits just next to Park City. Since the landlord for the two first resorts will now be operating the third one, one could speculate that Park City resorts now have a common denominator, which would make it the de-facto dominating economic force in the community. How should our city engage that 800 pound gorilla? What should we expect from them? Should we instead, as many advocate, roll over and play dead under the behemoth? This certainly is not my opinion. The silver lining of that consolidation could be that, with a single underlying player, we might get closer to interconnecting our resorts and offer a much enhanced skiing and snowboarding experience.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Municipal Elections

Last night we attended a neighborhood meeting in which we had a chance to meet with, and ask questions to, six candidates vying for three city council seats up for grabs at this November 6 election. It was the first time we attended that kind of assembly and it revealed a lot about the candidates, their body language, the articulation of their program and the way they answered questions. We could only find two candidates who were worthy of our votes and could not help but wonder what makes these guys and girls run. Is it to satisfy their egos, get out of their homes, make useful business connections, get a few perks along the way, or is it pure idealism and a deep desire to serve? I sincerely doubt that it’s often the later two. I for one, have no interest in spending my evenings in city council meetings. I’m not suggesting that no one serves to serve, but those must be few and far between…

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Passion & apathy

Black and white, day and night, hot and cold, positive and negative, optimism and pessimism, ups and downs, joy and sadness, good and evil, passion and apathy. This sounds like Taoism, which revolves around those natural life cycles that make each day interesting and keep us, at all moments, on the edge of our seat. I always try to remember that when I’m down on my luck, the next move will elevate me and being up is my preferred stage in life. Nothing beats the positive side of things and we always want to ride the crest of that wave. Of all the positive feelings, passion and love are on top. Love is the greatest and most beautiful emotion of all and cultivating it through a live time is both an art form and a blessing. I’ve never been quite able to tell the difference between passion and love, even though I think that passion applies to things and activities and love is the domain of human sentiments. Lots of love and passion seem to burn life very, very fast, but hey, you can’t get something so great for free. So, keep on loving and being passionate about everything you do!

Monday, October 22, 2007

The snow war just started…

…when Park City fired up its snow guns this morning. The conditions were ripe for the offensive, with only 11 degree Fahrenheit, early in the day. Now that my new skis and boots have arrived, it’s finally time to get my armament ready for the first salvo!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Who’s the boss?

Ever since I have been under the yoke of work, I could never escape having a bunch of bosses. At first, they were my parents, then my teachers, my siblings (when we all worked in the family business)and eventually my superiors in the military. It’s perhaps only when I was a self-employed ski instructor that, for the first time - and a short while at that - I didn’t feel someone breathing down my neck; however, I soon discovered that, to be successful, I had to submit myself to my clients! There was no way to escape a boss. Later, I sold my soul to the devil the day I entered the corporate life. It came laden with a wide variety of bosses, most of them inept, arrogant and often totally incompetent. Never could I find a good mentor capable of developing me; it was always the other way around. This is undoubtedly why the best part of my business career came when I was running a small distribution company in Salt Lake. Only then did I feel some sense of elation, but still had to put up with lots of hard-to-please customers. Now, things have changed, and the other day, I was surprising myself wondering if there were room for a boss in my terrific new life. There was none around and I finally came to the realization that I had overcome that beast for good. Sure, there’s my spouse, but the expectation is to please her whenever I can; I have no fear yet of getting fired…

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Thirty years running...

After all these years, road running remains our number one sport. I started running with some regularity more than 30 years ago when we moved to White Plains, New York. I was working very hard and fell that the sedentary nature of my new job would kill me. Kid, I had never liked running; I was bad at it, I'd get side aches and really hated the activity. In July 1977, under the sweltering New York heat, I attempted for a few days to run one or two miles, a grueling experience, but it’s only in August 1977 that I became religious about it, and started running daily for about 30 minutes each time. This would become a five-days-a-week regimen that continues today. In 1987 Evelyne joined in my 6 am outing, and ever since, we’ve been running like zealots. Depending on the season, we log 18 to 22 miles per week; almost nothing stops us; we’ve run under snow, sleet, rain and in complete darkness. Today, if we no longer get up at 5:45 am to run, we still prefer the early morning hour. When we travel, packing our running gear takes a minimum amount of space and when we run in a new place, we see things tourists will never even suspect. Over the years, I’ve run in about 20 different countries, more than 20 different North American provinces and states and I have only been bitten once by a mad dog in Danvers, Massachusetts.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Mini dream

When I was eighteen I wanted to own and drive a Mini...
I remember that my friend Marcel R. had one and I was extremely envious of him. Unfortunately, I was both too poor and too practical at the time, and had to fall back on a lowly Citroën 2 CV. Yesterday, Evelyne was the recipient of a brand new Mini Cooper. Some people are decidedly luckier than others!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Can we be unhappy?

We can be happy, we can be stressed or anxious, but if we’re in good health and still have time enough ahead of us we have no right and no reason to be unhappy. If that’s the case, we must undertake everything necessary to operate the required change. I've been told that eating plenty of almonds, broccolis and bananas is a good way to move towards that direction…

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Avant-garde wheelbarrow

A few days ago, as we were discussing wheelbarrows, I couldn’t help but think that this implement has never benefited from modern evolution. To date, it has remained like the lowly coffee-bean was before Starbucks. That prompted me to come up with a few technological enhancements that should make a state-of-the-art wheelbarrow as desirable as an i-phone and a cool stocking stuffer come this Holiday season. First and foremost, my proposed design would look cool; its body would be made of the most advanced composites, the paint job would be stunning, it would (finally!) receive a small Honda engine with electric starter along with disc-brake on the front wheel (yeah, it would be all-wheel drive!). Not only the side legs would be mounted on shock absorbers, but they would incorporate a telescopic ejector that would – on command – unload its content, thus increasing productivity and minimizing operator fatigue. And, yes, there would be a fully featured dashboard, with speedometer, i-Pod hook-up and optional GPS.
Now, where’s your order?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Scary ride

As we always do when we return from our morning run, we sit for a while on our front stairs to relax and see what goes on in our street. This morning, as we were watching our little world go by, we noticed one of our neighbors involved with what I'd call “risky behavior.” Coming from me, that might either strike you as the description of something very daring or perhaps make you think that I have suddenly become extremely tame. Well, picture this; here goes our neighbor, in the street, on her bike with her two year old daughter on the rear bicycle seat. The mother’s holding the handlebar with her left hand while trying to control with her right hand the leash of her dog running along side the bike. If it were not for the little girl on the back, I might say wow! That would be plenty audacious, considering the fact that a bike, its rider and a dog on leash constitute a moving target that's rather vulnerable; a mean dog could attack the rider’s pooch, an out of control car could pop from behind the corner, any emergency a biker typically encounters could happen. With a dog in tow that doesn’t necessarily master the rules of the road, the situation can be tricky. If you add an innocent toddler on the back seat of the bike you now have a recipe for disaster. I guess we, Americans, must be the best at multi-tasking…

Monday, October 15, 2007

Climate change and overpopulation

There are several “elephants in the room” when it comes to climate change. One of them is population overload. Last month, the world's population was believed to have reached over 6.6 billion. Our planet’s population continues to grow at rates that were unprecedented before the 20th century and today, it’s expected to reach over 9 billion by the year 2050. Don’t try to tell me that our planet overcrowding has nothing to do with climate change; every household in the developing world wants two cars, air conditioning and the rest; just do the math... By definition, overpopulation occurs when the population density is so great as to actually cause an impaired quality of life, serious environmental degradation, or long-term shortages of essential goods and services. So far, certain countries have managed to temporarily accommodate their growing populations through the use of agriculture, desalination, and nuclear power. These technologies however, see their effect decrease over the long-term unless they are sustainable. In that debate, very little of course is said about religion, the second elephant in the room that along with ignorance, the third one, are the leading causes of overpopulation. This begs the question what is a reasonable number for world population?
Is it 3 or 4 billion? Or is 6.6 billion just fine and 9 billion okay?
I’d have a tendency to vouch for the former set of numbers, pushing for less religion and more education… What’s your vote?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Why is time flying so fast?

Ever since I have ceased being employed, my time has started misbehaving and is no longer the old, long-lasting buddy I used to know and trust; it now goes way too fast, doesn’t last and comes the end of the day I really feel cheated. I’m not complaining about its quality; in fact, mine has improved by leaps and bounds. It’s more entertaining and much richer, but the damn thing doesn’t last the way it used to. Is it now mass-produced in China instead of being hand-made in Switzerland? Is it built with substandard materials? I really don’t know. Until recently, I never understood the preciousness of that finite resource that I have squandered for most of my life. Now that I can see what’s left of it, that flowing treasure seems to play tricks on me and take every avenues to feel short, narrow, and thin. What am I to do? Can anyone recommend a good set of brakes to slow things down a bit?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Recipe for xeriscape

Yesterday, I undertook to built a xeriscape pod in our garden next to our Alta swing-chair. I hope you understand what all this gibberish means. At any rate, I started the work with one half-ton of rocks, one wheelbarrow full of road-base, two wheelbarrow of dirt, five gallon of large pebbles and half a wheelbarrow of half-inch sand. I blended and worked the entire heap, took a leisurely lunch break, and let the result gently cook in the afternoon sun. By the end of the afternoon it was just right and ready to plant with native, high-desert species. Yes, in spite of the time and effort involved, the whole endeavor was almost a piece of cake!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

How reinvention works

To me, reinvention is a drastic transformation in the way we live our lives. With little room for incremental change, it’s like making a 180 degree turn in relation to the things we’ve always done. It may involve burning some bridges and doing things that may shock or dramatically surprise those who know us. In many instances, reinvention is generally the byproduct of a reaction to situations or individuals at a certain point in time; rarely will it be a cold, premeditated move. At any rate, it requires a lot of courage.

Catalysts for reinvention can be found in a life-long, unfulfilled obsession, a powerful dream, an intense passion, a craving for that adrenaline rush or some kind of activity and location of choice (i.e. becoming a gaucho in Argentina). There can be negative catalysts too, like running out of options, not “taking it” any longer or despair, pure and simple.

Reinvention can be viewed as an essential tool that we use if we feel stuck in our life or in our career; if we’re bored, if we hate what we do, if our creative “juice” is no longer flowing, out of control, unhappy or just seek a better life. Reinvention may be in order whenever the little voice inside us tells us so.

When successful, reinvention brings rewards. It is a positive form of control that we have upon our lives. It allows us to “dial” our own deal, to tap directly into our true potential, our true self. Doing deliberately something we love opens up the flow of passion, the ultimate fuel for energy and happiness. Often, reinvention carries the seeds for innovation as it can’t happen in a stagnating environment; it also open new doors and keeps on surprising us a we go along…

The risks inherent with reinvention are that, if unsuccessful, a new move may bring us down both physically and psychologically. Things are easier when no dependants or close partners are involved or when there are enough resources to soften a potential blow.

Reinvention is not for everyone; it may not be needed it if we love our current stage in life, or if we are already enjoying a smooth, satisfactory and comfortable existence. We always hear about success stories; seldom about failures. Let’s remember however that winning a war is often a blend of victories and defeats; the more we’ll play the “reinvention” card, the more likely we’ll accumulate the successes and failures that will, over time, bring us to the top. It may simply be that successful reinvention requires good practice!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Personal reinvention

re•in•vent: To make over completely.
One topics that always appealed to me was reinvention, like reinventing one’s life, one’s field of endeavor or the just the world around us. I personally went through a number of reinventions from the time I was a goat herder, as a little kid growing up in the French Alps, a budding artist designing cartoons and sports cars, an airplane equipment specialist, a professional ski instructor, a surveyor, a ski world cup racing director, a product manager, a sales and marketing man, a consumer goods distributor, a stock-broker, a real estate agent (two things I hated), an international salesman, and then went from the ski industry into the property management/tour and travel business. Today, I’m in a totally different capacity, focusing mostly on investments, yet this last reinvention is by far my most successful and rewarding one. In the course of the next blogs, we’ll discover what reinvention is all about. To be continued...

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The “Peugeot Hour”

For me, the biggest negative of growing old is that the uninterrupted full night of sleep is going by the wayside. These days, it’s not uncommon that after I go to sleep at 9 pm totally exhausted, I will wake up at midnight, 1 am, 3 am, then again, at 4 or 5 am. When I wake up at the latter times, I generally get out of bed and start working in my office. Around 3 am is different, because I consider it still “like the middle of the night” and will try whatever it takes to get back to sleep. I open one eye, peek at the digital alarm clock and often see 307 or 308 and automatically think at one of the best selling Peugeot cars in Europe. This is why I call it the “Peugeot Hour”. If my digital clock showed 325 would I call that time of night the “Beamer Hour?” I doubt it, I’m still French at heart.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Questionable detail

It’s amazing how some architects can keep on repeating obvious mistakes, something that you’ll hardly see in other industries. With the advent of computer aided design, improvements have become largely incremental and the products that come out are generally getting better over time, not the other way around. Is it because we live in the mountains and that local architects were neither born nor raised with their feet in the snow, rain and mud, that we keep on seeing recurring bad ideas? Perhaps the job should only be open to folks who sometime get out from their office and look up at the sky instead of staring down into their computer screens? Since there are plenty of retrograde ideas to shoot at, today’s blog will just explore the treatment of rafters by architects. In recent years, mountain home designers (from California, Colorado, Montana, Utah) find it cute to have their rafters stick from underneath the roof and get exposed to the weather. Anyone can see that these will get rain beating on them and snow capping them all winter long. So what’s the point? Just to look cute? If these creative minds had to repaint these exposed areas every year they'd quickly tuck them in, unless of course, there’s a compelling reason; if you know it, let me know!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Against all odds

Yesterday, at the rugby world championship, the French team pulled a spectacular and unexpected win over the famous New-Zealand “All Blacks” team. The French were the designated losers going in that quarter-final game, and only a miracle could change the outcome. They worked up that miracle and won their qualification. The point here is not to discuss that particular game, but rather to wonder when a situation is totally stacked up against a group of people or someone, and see a victor emerge against all odds. The morale of the story is crystal clear; never despair and never give up. The corollary is an obvious “stay humble!”

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Spotch it!

This summer, while we traveled back and forth between Utah and California, our daughter Charlotte introduced us to this game . She learned it from her friend Erin from Anchorage, Alaska, who got it from her high-school-age set of twin sisters. As for the name of that game, I can’t precisely tell you where it comes from; I can just say that in urban parlance, spotch means “to ignite or light on fire.”
But before we go any farther, let me give you the rules of that game should you want to try your luck:

- Each time participants spot a yellow car they say - or better yet, yell - “spotch it!” The color must be yellow or be within a reasonable shade of yellow. Gold or orange are not admissible. If the car is painted in more than one color, yellow must dominate. Also, the vehicle must be a passenger car or small truck as long as it doesn’t bear any commercial markings such as “Joe Smith – Plumbing”. Any large truck, van (i.e. Hertz or Penske’s), taxicab, all-terrain 4-wheeler, motorbike, doesn’t qualify nor does any construction or farming equipment, fire protection vehicle or ambulance.
- Counting period limited to one full day (midnight to midnight)
- Each legitimate sighting earns one point
- Any false sighting (wrong color, vehicle, etc.) loses one point
- Only one point per vehicle; if it's seen twice, no extra point is awarded
- Only actual vehicles count (pictures, projections, mock-ups don’t)
- A driver who sees a yellow car in the back mirror earns a point (a well-deserved break for the attention required to drive in traffic)
- The sighting must be witnessed by someone who knows the rules of the game

From the get go, Evelyne was hooked on the game and quickly became excellent at it. I am not nearly as proficient; for instance, if she gets 5 or 6 sightings on a typical day, I’m lucky to claim 1 or 2. That of course, makes me a bit jealous and I tend to get irritated and state that when I drive, I have to concentrate on the road. What will happen is that I see the yellow car, but for some reasons have a mental block and can't spontaneously utter “spotch it!” There’s always a short, dead moment which is always long enough for Evelyne to score in my place. In short, I never look forward to playing that game. That doesn’t mean you should abstain from participating. Anyone who perseveres long enough can excel at “spotch it!” So you have it; both the excitement and the rules of engagement. I sincerely hope that you, your friends and family get immersed into that game, so we can very soon share observations and compare scores. Your success at it will hinge on the popularity of yellow cars where you live or where you drive. Make sure to scan parking lots, they'll dramatically increase your score. Enough discussion though, its now time to build a fast “spotch it!” response…

Friday, October 5, 2007

Cherry on the cake

This summer, we’ve been focusing on our backyard. Evelyne has worked hard on her plants, weeding them religiously and lately, replanting them into new locations for a more balanced and colorful arrangement that will materialize next spring. I, for my part, have been laying two pallets worth of flagstones, defining a complete path that now circumnavigates the entire garden. We included two seating areas: We first installed our “Alta Supreme” swinging chair on one of them and there still was one space left. I had envisioned a die-cast metal love-seat but instead, Evelyne astutely convinced me to get another stone bench. We already had one installed in our front yard and we love it - even though we hardly ever use it. So yesterday we hooked the trailer to the car and drove to our favorite stone retailer in nearby Heber to pick up the bench. Ed, our neighbor, helped me lay the super-heavy top stone on its two legs and voilà, we were offering yet another sitting arrangement to our backyard visitors. Will it get much use? I doubt it, but its sleek top surface is poised to receive a generous amount of magpie droppings, and that's free quality fertilizer!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Stickers on fruits

After death and taxes, my next pet-peeve is stickers on fruits. I feel it’s time to remove them once and for all. I’m not talking about the “real” fruits we purchase each week at the farmer’s market, but those we find at the grocery store or the warehouse club. The main reason why I despise these little labels so much is that we must remove stickers from the fruit before composting. If you drop the peels into the composting bin without removing the pesky stickers you'll end up with a bin that is half-full with paper and half-full with peels that refuse to decompose in such a promiscuous space. Can someone tell me what the use of these annoying stickers is? They hardly give you the country of origin, date of production, or even the produce serial number (if we ever needed one.) With the 1,000 plus bananas that I prepare each morning in the course of a year (see my June 1, 2007, blog) I have to peel away between 300 and 500 stickers off the yellow fruits. That’s a lot of work and time in the… bin. Since we have to be constructive, I suggest that if markings are indeed necessary, we should go back to stamping the fruit (remember, yesterday's oranges?) or bio-engineer the labels into the fruit DNA or even beam a laser marking on produce sitting on the store display. What’s your solution to that existential problem?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Our wheelbarrows

If you think the wheelbarrow was invented by the English, the French or even the Italians, you’re dead wrong! Long before they’d mass-manufacture clothing, computers, bikes, pet food and toothpaste, the Chinese had invented and produced the first wheelbarrows some 1,900 years ago. The Europeans caught up with it later, between 1170 and 1250 AD. The standard wheelbarrow is a small hand-propelled vehicle, usually with just one wheel designed to be pushed and guided by a single person using two handles to the rear. Its typical capacity is approximately 170 liters (6 cubic feet.) Since we live in America we own two wheelbarrows. One (the largest) is mine and was purchased brand new four years ago. The other (a tad smaller) is Evelyne’s and was bought used at a garage sale three years ago for $5.00. We later had to replace the wheel which cost us a whopping $25.00! Both are orange in color (so we don’t lose sight of them in the yard) and are very well maintained. We park them under our deck in the back and they are by far the most economical vehicles to operate that we have ever own. There will be more on that wonderful device in an upcoming blog, so please, stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Memories, activities and dreams

Memories can be good, bad or anywhere in between. What do we do with them? Should we give equal billing to all memories, or be selective and only entertain the more pleasurable ones? It seems to me that my most pleasurable memories have a better life span than bad ones. Sure, I do remember my car, ski and other accidents as a way not to repeat them; but they’re just mental mileposts and I feel very neutral about them. My other bad memories can be recalled at any time but they don’t seem to affect me emotionally. My interpretation of that response is perhaps that I lived the situation to its fullest (that is, with a strong emotional response) when it happened, but past that point, my emotional tank relating to that incident seems empty. If I have, at times, held grudges at people who might have done me wrong, that didn’t last very long as I seemed to have an uncanny ability to move on. Is this because I fully process emotions when they occur? That might be the case. Now, if I try to examine how I process my very good memories, I can only say that they’re always there when I retrieve them, but they don’t overwhelm or obsess me. They generally are small, fugitive vignettes that are not necessary vivid. In fact, they might not be as sharp as my “bad” memories, because the emotional imprint might not be as intense. In digging deeper into the topic, I see that it’s hard to separate memories from the timeline, involving past, present and future.

The past
I believe that past memories are the building blocks of experience. Whether they are pleasurable or terrible, the impact past memories made on us somehow protect us from future pain and disappointment and drive us towards pleasant situations; they make us stronger and able to cope. Are bad memories better teachers than good ones? I can’t seem to tell; they all contribute to forming us along the way. …

The present
The more I think about the here and now, this is where the action is and this clearly is the place that I enjoy the most. One of the reasons time seems to fly so fast now that I’m retired is that I do what I really love, with a healthy stress level. I would say that I’m now living in the present like never before and I love it.

The future
Since I'm so much absorbed by the present, there is very little time left for thinking about tomorrow. Is that because I’m now “over the hill” or because my day is so full that I can only handle my daily load? In a sense, this makes me sad, because thinking about the future is the essence of dreaming. Simply put, too much activity kills the dream.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Soon, a grandson

This afternoon we received a call from our son Thomas announcing that the Ob/Gyn had determined that a grandson was on his way. All was well for Juliette the mom and the very little boy! Estimated time of arrival: March 15, 2008. We can’t wait…