Monday, June 30, 2008

Killy’s lasting legacy

There’s little doubt that Jean-Claude Killy has had a huge influence on France and its development into a skiing powerhouse (both in term of its equipment suppliers and its ski areas.) His achievements also inspired many vocations in the field, including my very own. As a result, I still thank him for having inspired me to pursue a gratifying career in the snow industry. But what I retained from Killy’s success goes beyond the narrow world of skiing; it’s in fact a holistic approach to action, business and living. It could be summarized as such, even though he might have not have expressed these ideas into these very words:
“Take manageable risks in order to stand a chance at winning”
“In any undertaking, the worst enemy is fear and doubt”
“Be sharply focused on the prize, yet remain detached and nimble at all times”
“Learn by observing”
I probably could go on, but these ideas, I feel, captures the essence of a man who’s much more than a great skier.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Is religious education child abuse?

Since they were created, most religions have depended upon strong and early children indoctrination to stay alive and thrive. The entire process probably started with a cultural education mixed with a variety of beliefs, many of them stemming from thoughtful observations and the rest from superstition and purely manufactured beliefs. One very legitimate question is whether it is morally right to exploit innocent and gullible minds to instill irrational beliefs into them? Does that form of education belong to passing on a certain form of culture and values to the next generation, or is it downright exploitation and abuse? Since the sectarian character of most religions has proven to be a dangerous and to divide more than it unites, it is a desirable form of intellectual heritage? I personally don’t believe so. While it may be late for parents who have already chosen to give their children a religious upbringing to stop everything on its tracks, parents who are about to rear their babies might find it appropriate to think twice before they start introducing dimensions of knowledge that are unproven, biased and that could damage their offspring minds and ineffectively influence them. There are so many proven truths and facts to know about life, on this planet and the universe, and yet so little time to acquire all this precious knowledge that it seems both irresponsible and unfair to inject extraneous, totally unproven and often noxious knowledge into innocent minds at the expense of the countless necessarily tools humanity will need to survive and thrive in full harmony with itself and its environment.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Staying focused on the big picture

It’s hard with all the temptations, the distractions, the hear-say and the rest to remain on a steady course towards a chosen destination… Being a bit removed from the low ground and looking onward, towards the goal, is always difficult when the noise is incessant, the fear mongers are getting agitated just by your side and that there’s not much or no one to remind you about the broader view. When these situations happen, I always try to stay stoic; I literally bite my tongue, close my lips and I muster all the energy I have to remind me that the background noise will fade, the gesturing will calm down and that tomorrow and the day after will get me a bit closer to what I want, in spite of the visible lightning strikes and the dark, low cloud cover…

Friday, June 27, 2008

If it’s built, will they come?

My high school was no an ordinary one; it was indeed quite special to those of us who attended it. First, it was a boarding school and second it was highly technical in its orientation as it taught watch-making and related micro-mechanical technologies. At any rate, we’re a group of students who have kept close ties, have reunions now and then and now that most of us are retired, or are about to be, we’ve got plenty of time to reminisce. This led to the idea of creating an interactive platform where we could all share thoughts, memories, current events and, of course, pictures. I suggested a blog and two nights ago I just started to build one. Now that the tool is built, will they all come and actively participate? My wife is a bit skeptical and I - as always - remain very, very hopeful and as of this writing two (out of ten invited) signed up…

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Stinky Mini

On Tuesday, as I started to work on our micro vegetable garden, I decided that I needed to buy some horse manure to make sure whatever we’d plant would grow like crazy ; we need all the help we can get, it’s almost July and we haven’t started yet ! I offered to take my station wagon to carry that precious cargo, but my wife insisted that we take her Mini Cooper instead; it uses less gasoline and besides, when its rear seats are lowered, you’d be amazed at how much stuff that little car holds! Well, here we were loading sacks of steer manure into her tiny car and as soon as we got inside and drove back home, a pungent smell almost poisoned us in the confined interior space. That showed how disconnected we’ve become with nature to the point that we had forgotten that manure, no matter how well packaged, still smells like it!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Thérèse Taberlet 1951 - 2008

Yesterday, as I was scanning my hometown obituaries, my eyes fell on the name of lady from Morzine who just passed away on June 22. You see, Thérèse worked with my wife for Pierre Cloppet's office in Avoriaz in 1974. She was a person full of energy, quite pleasant and intent on enjoying life to its fullest. About five years ago, she began to struggle with cancer and since that time, her life became a challenging series of ups and downs that took the best of her and sapped her trademark “joie de vivre.” She’s survived by her mom and two brothers, including Michel who’s just my age. Thérèse, we already miss your smile!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Reblochon in Utah!

On April 30, 2007, I was announcing that the “tartiflette” had been featured in the New York Times and with it, a short history of its primary ingredient, the semi-soft cheese “reblochon” produced in my native Haute-Savoie, in France. Today, as we were grocery-shopping at Costco, we discovered that this delectable marvel had finally made it to Utah! Even at $10 a piece, we couldn’t resist but buy a couple that we’d start savoring at lunch less than one hour later. The cheese was so good that it fooled us into thinking that we still were vacationing in France. When we first came to America, you had to smuggle good cheese into the country if you wanted to eat something decent. Later, it was possible to find a limited selection of European cheese at specialty stores, especially in large urban centers like New York City. Later, as globalization took hold, genuine Swiss production like Gruyère, Emmenthal and Raclette cheese tip-toed into grocery stores. For several years and through 2006 we had a terrific and thriving cheese store in Salt Lake that transformed our lives, but went out of business for no valid reason. A couple of years ago, French Comté appeared at Costco, and today the “reblochon miracle” occurred; America and more specially Utah are places truly blessed by God!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Last day of skiing, second day of summer

Yesterday morning, I was intent on going to Snowbird for their 183th and final day of skiing of the season, but the temperature was a bit too warm and, come to think of it, I didn't feel like adding to my "carbon footprint" by driving one and a half hour up and down the canyons to “slush” my way through some less than pristine snow. Instead, I climbed upon the roof of my house and decided to clean it from the pesky catkin, a by-product of the aspen flowers, more prevalent on male trees, the only gender that loves to hug the roof!) Catkin appears in early spring before leaving way to the leaves. Not only does this vegetal garbage get all over the garden, but it also covers the roof and eventually completely fills the gutters, so when leaves are fully grown, it becomes time to clean-up the mess. I take my power blower and get the job done in a couple of hours; Evelyne helps by picking-up the debris and filling up our gigantic garbage can. That annual chore doesn't quite match the fun of going down the slopes, but it sure gets me up and down the top of the house and paying as much attention when I reach the edge of the roof to empty the gutters!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Francis Huissoud 1946 – 2008

On June 11, 2008, Francis, a former school mate from the ENH in Cluses, France, passed away following a long illness; he is survived by his wife Christiane, daughter Nathalie and many other family members and friends. Nangy's City Council Member since 1989 and serving on the Arve river management board (a stream that flows down valley from Chamonix before joining the Rhone in Geneva,) tirelessly attending board and committee meetings, Francis was totally committed to his work, always trying to learn from the experts in all areas including water works, chemistry or finances. He believed in public service and has given his all to the river, his community as well as to future generations. We’ll miss you Francis, and just as postscript and a way to say “goodbye” with a smile, here’s a translation of your stanza from our School’s yearbook:


Long-legged philosopher, skillful politician
Always hard worker and fine car technician
Loving reading as much as partying
Of all crashed-car salvagers will be king
Future calling: Fiat-Abarth racing team’s chief salvager

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Don’t worry, be happy…

This perhaps is easier said than done; if we were to keep a tally of all the worries we had over a lifetime, we’d discover that all the gray hair we grew and all the stomachaches we experienced were largely unwarranted. We all know that, yet we continue to slide into the spiral of anxiety. In fact, it seems that we generally seem to worry the most over future issues we’re totally powerless about. Is worry negative thinking? I don’t necessarily think so, even though it’s rooted into fear, but the two are closely related in the sense that worry brings negative thinking, not the other way around. Just forcing positive thinking into our minds is not going to eliminate worry. Short of recommending my wife's favorite, the “Guatemalan worry doll method” in which worriers tell each doll an issue before going to sleep so it can work on solving it while the owner sleeps, I have a few recommendations to root out that calamity. First, if something worries you and there is something you can do to address it, take some concrete and immediate steps in that direction. Then, always identify the worrying thought, isolate it and find some distraction to minimize it. Try also to keep track of what worries you and then observe the real outcome; if you do, you’ll realize quickly that most worries are unwarranted. Another helpful tool is to always be grateful for what you have at the moment and appreciate it fully. Finally, always look for the best instead of the worst outcome in any situation; realize that worry is a habit and like any habit it can be made or broken in 21 to 40 days. Start crushing it today!

Friday, June 20, 2008

An ideal climate

It takes a trip abroad to make me appreciate the inherent advantages of our Utah mountain weather; especially after spending two week in France’s humid environment. The reasons for Utah’s dry climate is not just because we live at high elevation (close to 7,000 feet) where the thinner air has less water contents, but also because the air masses get dry as they travel East from the Pacific Coast over the Sierras and Cascade mountains and through the desert of Nevada. In fact, after Nevada, Utah is the second driest state in the United States! The East Coast is more like South-East Asia as far as humidity goes, Western Europe is less humid, but more so than the state of California. I’ve learned that the Atacama desert located along the coast of Chile next to the Pacific Ocean boasts the driest weather on earth, but which other part of the world has a weather similar to Utah? Iran, perhaps, does someone know?Living in a high desert means cool nights, warm days and beautiful blue skies from June through November. In winter, because of the long distances storms have to travel and the many mountains they must cross to reach Utah, the snow that falls is generally light and fluffy. This powder snow, when deep enough, gives skiers the feeling they’re floating on air. This is the main reason why Utah's snow is nicknamed “the greatest snow on earth.” Of course with a weather like that, there's plenty of dust that get inside the house, you need to drink a lot of water and it can be a problem if your skin tends to be dry, but it beats a humid and sticky weather any day!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Good to be back home again!

After another grueling trip, we’re back on American soil. Everything went well and we can say that we had no single negative experience on that trip, which makes it that much more special. It was made of a mosaic of stages through many diverse parts of France that could have been hard to handle, but wasn’t really. We had to get up at 4 am yesterday morning to be ready to drive back to Geneva, return our rental car, catch a 7:30 am flight to Paris before we had anything to eat. The flight between Paris and San Francisco was in an Air France 747-400 and the economy class service was – as always on this airline, outstanding – I wonder how people still even fly Delta and United when they travel overseas! We enjoyed a spectacular approach and landing over the Bay area of San Francisco as we came from the North and saw so much and in so many details as I never had experienced before; truly my world’s favorite city! San Francisco to Salt Lake, the last leg of our journey was gruesome, as we sat cramped in the last row of a small Canadair Jet. We both were beat up, and it’s only when a full 24 hour later Thomas met us with Finn at the airport at 7 pm, that we managed to smile again…

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Lessons from a trip

As our European trip is drawing to an end, it’s been punctuated with unforgettable sites and fun encounters, I have also learned many things about me and others in ways that I hope will serve me well in the near future and hopefully for the rest of my life if I can manage to keep them in mind.
In seeing how time is doing its inexorable and destructive work on friends and family, we’re now even more convinced than ever that our good times on the planet are running fast and that this simple truth behooves us to truly enjoy each moment to its fullest. Likewise we need to also become much better at appreciating more things, even the little trivial ones that we take for granted most of the time!
That powerful context also shows that we must learn to forget and forgive and that even the biggest hurts or all the wrongs that might have been perpetrated upon us can’t be sublimated into some kind of pardon. We should learn to see that any negative experience is a building block that will make us much better individuals.
So the rule becomes clearer: We should also never let bad things fester, we should always build bridges instead of letting the few that link us to others crumble and we need to be better at controlling each single emotion when it might stand as an obstacle in our good relationship with others. Finally we need to look at money and material things always as a means and never as an end.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Let’s talk “family”

Today should have been called “food feast day” as we have had a four hour lunch a my brother’s home followed by another four hour dinner at my sister’s place. Both events were great opportunities to reminisce the good and not-so-good old days growing up as siblings into a challenging and often harsh family environment. The conversation, that included in-laws as well, was at times charged with recriminations directed to the parents and also laden with guilt plus a whole range of feeling running in between. During these long, open-soul discussions I was reminded that the best way to deal with bi gone issues is always to try to let go of them and when bad feelings are still floating in the air, forgetting and forgiving are the only keys capable to put the matter to rest and help us regain a healthy sense of self.

Monday, June 16, 2008

World views from France

Back in my native country, a political and economic conversation about the USA is inescapable and the majority of folks we’ve talked to are deeply concerned about the ways things are going. Perhaps, the French’s pessimistic mood is deeply tainted by this late spring’s horrible weather, but it’s hard to cheer them up, even for someone as optimistic as me. As we discuss, I become increasingly convinced that the era of profiteering by the West at the expense of poorer nation is finally coming to an end. Generally, French folks are deeply concerned about the steep decrease in their purchasing power and blame their political leaders and a few greedy CEO for what’s happening. They think the middle class is being unfairly “squeezed” and soon all these brave people will demonstrate in the street. To me, the reality is quite different; I believe we’re all at the dawning of a new age in which we’ll have to share more by accepting diminished comfort, so developing nations can start partaking a little in what has been our gluttonous feast for long decades…

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Almost out of gas

Reliance on GPS without checking an old fashion paper map could be disastrous and this is not something new. Today, as we were driving from Provence to Haute-Savoie, I made one bad call that could have stranded us on the side of the road, hitch-hiking or perhaps just walking for a long time… By not carefully studying the map - thinking I knew the region like my back pocket - I entered our final destination into the GPS and off we went. Instead of taking the freeway (a misnomer in France, as it’s almost always a toll road) it routed us through the shortest itinerary, but obviously the one that took the longest. Not only that, since there was a major bike race blocking the regular highway, we were detoured on a windy, steep and never-ending narrow mountain road between Ugine and Megève. I was already low on gas, and that little extra put me on the brink of running dry. The digital indicator showed a blinking “last bar” for miles on end, forcing me to apply the utmost lightness on the gas pedal and scared me that my passenger would soon find out. In a tiny resort town called Flumet we saw a salutary gas pump, but it would take any of my credit cards as they only work with a smart “chips” embedded into them. Finally, thinking we were on our very “last drop” we reached the next gas station in Megève, asked a lady who was pumping gas if she could let us use her bank card for some of our cash, but didn’t even had to do that; as there was an attendant on the spot; after filling up, I realized that we still had almost one gallon left in the tank!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

One day in Provence

Now that we’re enjoying our third sunny day in a row, Chantal and Jean-François Premat have taken us on a long and beautiful tour through parts of the Lubéron and the spectacular gorges of the Verdon River which flows nearby. After stopping in Moustier a drop-dead-gorgeous village nestled under a huge rock formation and having lunch there, we drove along side the gorges making stopping at all possible view points and getting dizzy at the sight of a gorge that at time represents more than 2,000 vertical drop from the narrow roadway overlooking the bottom of a river encased by vertical cliffs that are also a location prized by expert rock-climbers showing off their skills every chance they get. The river meanders for miles, cutting a dizzying gorge into the rock and the mountain, before if finally opens up into a beautiful artificial lake framed around abundant vegetation. Since we couldn’t afford “one year in Provence” that single day filled with lots of silliness and laughter almost accomplished that thanks to our hosts’ kindness and will remain one of the most memorable stages of our trip…

Friday, June 13, 2008

Forty years ago

Today our itinerary took us from the medieval city of Aigues-Mortes, then around the Camargue region, the city of Arles and finally to beautiful Aix en Provence, before we arrived in the Luberon region where our friends Chantal and Jean-François Premat live. On the way there, we stopped in Salon de Provence, about one hour north of Marseilles, where I spent a significant amount of time performing my mandatory military service at a French air force base there (B.A. 701) which is also the French equivalent of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. It took me a lot of time to get there since I could absolutely not recognize the place as it had grown so much and changed so drastically since 1969 when I left it. We finally discovered its entrance unchanged and then a whiff of forty years old memories hit me. I was working there at a small squadron of Mystere IV jet, filling up jet-fuel and working as a mechanic, just bidding my time. Not a particular happy moment of my life, but not a terrible one either. I just had some regrets that I didn’t more visiting around that beautiful region instead of only going back to my Northern Alps every chance I got…

Thursday, June 12, 2008

So much in common…

Last night we met Paulette and Jean Barbier in the seaside resort of La Grande Motte, France for dinner. They were traveling south towards Perpignan near the Spanish border, and us pushing north towards Provence. We hadn’t seen each other for so long and yet have so much in common; consider this: Jean and Evelyne, my spouse, were both born and raised in Nancy, at the same time Paulette and I hail from Savoie. Jean and I served in the French Air Force in Corsica; while we both were certified ski instructors in France, we also taught skiing for several seasons in Australia, and then met for the first time when we worked together at Look ski bindings. To top it all, we also managed to join forces with Lange boots. After having raised two kids each, our two households are today retired and enjoy that new lifestyle to its fullest. There would be many more things I could add, but I’ll keep it short. Now, if that’s not a collection of uncanny points in common, please tell me what is!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

One-man band

Last night we took Mireille Dusser for dinner at "Le Petit Couassert," a little inn in Beaucens not far from her house. The restaurant was set in a renovated farm house and had been already in business for four years. The man who welcomed us, Philippe Horguedebat, was a young guy, not really outgoing, but the setting was really cute and the menu looked good enough for us to stay and order something to eat. We were the only clients and only a bit later did a young American couple come in to have dinner too. From the start, Evelyne got a hunch that the man was alone to do everything, including preparing the food, cooking it, waiting tables and doing the dishes; I said her assumption was silly… At one point, our host climbed up the stairs that led apparently to some living quarter carrying a full dinner tray; there was evidently someone having a meal up there. Then, as she could no longer contain her curiosity, my spouse asked the man if he really was alone to do all the cooking, waiting and the rest. He said “Sure; my wife is ironing upstairs…” We didn’t believe the latter part of his comment and figured that he and his wife have had some sort of argument, but this was the first time in my life that I had been in a one-man-everything restaurant!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Trimming job

It is not that I’m great at giving haircuts, but if asked, I can do a fair job. This morning, following our daily run, Mireille Dusser, our hostess for two nights at Ayros-Arbouix, in the French Pyrennees, told us that her hedge needed some adjustmentsand we quickly gathered a tall ladder, some clippers and got to work. Time and the abundant downpours that France had been receiving lately had given an “afro” look to anything that could grow and was supposed to stay on the “straight and narrow…” Evelyne was simultaneously holding the ladder and watching for incoming traffic in the narrow street while Mireille was cleaning and bagging the abundant clippings. Precariously perched on the thin aluminum ladder I was doing my very best shearing the excess leaves while keeping an eye at an ideal three-dimensional mind’s eye picture of what a perfect job should be. My fear was that the line might be ragged, not plumb and that after adjusting countless times by cutting more and more we’d end up with no hedge left. That concern served us well as the final job was close to perfection and for a brief moment I thought quite seriously of starting a new career in the landscaping business.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Harsh fall, scenic drive and non-stop miracles

This morning literally started with a “bang” when I took a spectacular fall in the hotel shower; I could have killed or maimed myself, but I miraculously didn’t not, and after a long run north of St-Jean-de-Luz overlooking the Ocean and amidst some very well situated real estate with breathtaking views, we hit the road through more of the Basque region, avoiding the main motorways and meandering through hills, farms, herds of cows and sheep and going through countless villages. We eventually emerged in Bearn country driving towards the town of Lourdes that has been made famous by the Virgin Mary’s apparition to Bernadette Soubirous, a young sheep herder, back in 1858. As luck would have it, we made one wrong turn and through the second miracle of the day, found ourselves into Lourdes’ main commercial street overflowing with crowds of pilgrims wearing blue scarves and walking in the middle of the street since the sidewalks were full. Never, except perhaps a Saturday night on the Las Vegas strip had we had seen such a big crowd and so many retail stores that seem to do huge numbers by selling all kinds of religious statues, pictures and other memorabilia. Business must be booming and the over-heating cash registers incessant noise must be as loud as those of slot-machines and constitute the sole, true and never-ending miracle that keeps this mountain valley booming year after year…

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Basque magic!

Today took us around some very special picturesque little villages (including Ascain and Espelette) with their typical whitewashed homes and red tile roofs. Basque country with its almost unpronounceable language must be to France what South Tyrol is to Italy. After stopping at a large flea-market and buying a “Babar” comic book for Finn, we pushed to St-Jean- Pied-de-Port a medieval town which sits on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, the famous pilgrimage that has taken folks from Europe’s four corners, across the Pyrenees since the middle ages. The town is just as endearing as its medieval narrow streets and architecture, lined up with tourist shops but also with Spartan pilgrim hostels and inexpensive eateries. I topped it all by buying a handsome Basque beret made right in St. Jean!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A vibrant community

I just had a very faint memory of Saint-Jean-de-Luz that I visited briefly in the early 80’s when I was still working for Lange ski boots. That old French Atlantic seaport lays a stone throw away from the Spanish border to the south and the west of the Pyrenees Mountains. In spite of an unseasonably cold and rainy weather, they were lots of visitors from everywhere and particularly from Spain. Apart from its seaside location, its beautiful Basque architecture and great food, the city has a terrific pedestrian shopping street lined up with a true variety of small and original shops (still few international “big” chains like Benetton or Quiksilver) that give it its true character and make shopping quite enjoyable and a genuine process of discovery. This certainly helps realize the importance of true small businesses in shaping a town’s character and making it very unique. A true “must-see…”

Friday, June 6, 2008

Climbing Pyla

Today, we climbed Pyla without oxygen, almost died half-way up, but finally managed to reach the windswept top of the giant sand dune that stands south of Bordeaux, France. This formation is really huge and certainly worth the sight. In an otherwise very flat oceanic region, its 340 feet elevation definitely stands out and makes it a legitimate tourist attraction that can easily get everyone’s attention. I heard that skiers have descended that huge dune and found the way to scribe a few turns in its ever moving sand. Evelyne and I just took up the stairs and after a successful ascent and a vertiginous descent ended up with pounds of sand in our shoes…

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The French wine way

Today we visited the Laroze winery near St. Emillion, in the Bordeaux region. After seeing the Robert Mondavi winery in Napa, this is the second place of that kind we’ve visited. We learned a lot from that excellent guided tour and, with the knowledge acquired during our earlier Californian visit, we now understand better how wines are made and also why they’re not created equal. Arcane rules, extra handcrafting and extensive blending seems to set the Bordeaux wine-makers apart from their Californian counterparts, while at the same time handicapping them in the way they’re marketing their product against those of the “new world.” They seem to be both obsessed by them as well as upset about them. It would seem to me that in the end, what should be the ultimate test is how the wine tastes, period. The wine we tested yesterday was outstanding among its Bordeaux brethren.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

In praise of patience

As we’re getting on the road today for Europe, we know that there’s a lot of waiting included in this particular package involving a significant need for patience. Patience is a subject I want to develop in future blogs because it’s charged with important meaning and has such a strong impact upon our lives. Patience seems to be one of these qualities that flourish with age, when less issues are at stake and when it’s easier to be more relaxed in the way we look at life. In addition, waiting patiently is a quality that generally pays off handsomely, unless of course one happens to be in a building in fire, but outside of extreme situations like this, patience gives us the necessary window of time to grow ideas, discover extra options and provide our creativity enough time to accomplish some productive work. Depending on how we look at it, life is both short and long and while it’s hard to dismiss the speed at which time goes by, it’s also amazing to watch the various elements that we’ve been able to grow to astonishingly huge proportion over the years and with the right dosage of patience; it just works just like compounded interests; if you don’t watch them too much, they’ll become enormous!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Why Bush doesn’t need secret service protection?

Very easy; simply because of Dick Cheney; our neighbor from Jackson Hole is George Bush’s best security. If something very bad were to happen to our President, Mr. Cheney would step in and become our commander-in-chief, and I can guaranty you that no breathing mammal, friend or foe, that has a normally functioning brain would want that nightmare to become a reality. So from today on, and until the end of his term, Mr. Bush could save us lots of dollars by doing without the expensive secret service protection and still enjoy a maximum level of security. Now, if you're looking for beefed-up personal security, and are considering getting a pit-bull, a rottweiler, a Kalashnikov, or just some pepper spray, you might want to ask President Bush to let you use Mr. Cheney when he's done with him; but hurry, a waiting list is already forming!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Bonjour Paris!

Very early this morning (at least for us in Park City) flight 171, a Boeing 767-300 ER, carrying nearly 200 passengers took off from Paris to make history, in-route for Salt Lake City, 5,100 air miles away, where it will land at about 1:50 pm. The flight operated in cooperation with Air France will be the only nonstop service by a U.S. carrier between the western United States and Paris. A Delta’s spokesman said that they’ll start with an 80 percent-plus load factor (percentage of available seats filled by paying passengers.) The Salt Lake-Paris jet is configured with 36 "business elite" seats and 175 coach seats. Delta is also very optimistic that it can make a profit on that flight with oil in the $120 to $130 per-barrel range. If the Paris route proves successful, it may lay the groundwork for opening other routes from Salt Lake to international destinations; for instance, Delta is now very hopeful that when it gets the right airplanes it might connect Tokyo to Salt Lake as early as the spring of 2011…

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Different gods for different religions?

If an after-life were to exist, I’ve always wondered how the various religions offered around the world would be guiding their faithful to the various areas assigned to their specific beliefs and put them in the presence of the god of their choice, or if instead, everyone would get funneled into a big, happy family where God would be a multi-faceted creature, sort of a “one-size fits all” that would satisfy Muslims, Hindus, and Christians to cite just a few. That precisely is the problem with religions and God if there’s one. If he (or she) really existed, he would have inspired his many prophets a long time ago to unify all faiths into one, instead of splitting them into more and more factions, most of them full of hatred and bloodthirsty. So in the absence of that unifying figure, I’m afraid that believers will have to settle for a ragged army of deities and a huge variety of ”reward programs…”