Friday, July 31, 2009

Phoning, drinking and driving...

According to a 2003 study that has been conveniently “buried” not to offend the telecommunication industry and all the politicians it bribes, cell phone use while driving can be as dangerous as being drunk behind the wheel. "We're looking at a problem that could be as bad as drunk driving, and the government has covered it up," said Clarence Ditlow, director of the Center for The highway safety researchers estimated that cellphone use by drivers caused around 955 fatalities and 240,000 accidents over all in 2002.

Contrary to popular belief that same source said that hands-free headsets did not eliminate serious accident risk as a cellphone conversation - not just holding the phone - takes drivers’ focus off the road. Some University of Utah findings underscore the dangers of multitasking behind the wheel and showed that motorists talking on a phone were four times as likely to crash as other drivers, and are as likely to cause an accident as someone with a .08 blood alcohol content. The survey concluded by recommending that drivers not use wireless communication devices, including text messaging systems, when driving, except in an emergency. Sounds pretty logical to me; what do you think?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Savings and needs

America's mantra has been to “save” for many years. Not saving in the traditional, healthy sense. I mean savings when buying “stuff” we don't even need, and that when “save” and “need” collide. Most American don't need what they own; in fact they barely use it all. So here we go to the store and we're admonished to save so much on this and that and if we buy more on objects, or even services we don't even need, we save more. Call it virtual savings! This mode of tempting consumers appeals to their sense of greed and on their fear of scarcity.

Since we would never miss to save on that product for which we have no need at the moment but might have one, some day, in the unforeseeable future, we buy it anyway. As a result, our large homes are bulging at the seams with duplicate, triplicate or unnecessary wares and we often have to rent storage space to “bury” these embarrassing items of personal property and get them once and for all out of our daily sight.

Ironically, our addiction to “saving” on what we buy, not what we would ever need, is putting us deep into debt and pretty soon bankrupting us. Wouldn't it be much more simple to work around what we need and try to save, if we can, when we get it, than try to save on what we don't need and sink under the debt we've contracted? This may sound schizophrenic, but this is the American reality, or just was...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Let's sell California to the Chinese!

It's been done before; the French sold us Louisiana and the Russians Alaska. In view of the recent budget woes, my wife suggested this morning that we ought to sell California to the Chinese. They have the money to pay for it and they might reconcile its divided state house so it finally gets in order, something Arnold was unable to accomplish. I thought it was the best idea I had heard in a very long time. With the proceeds, we might make a significant dent into our federal budget deficit or perhaps pay for a decent health care system for the 49 remaining states; I know, the conservative might prefer funding a low-budget, quick-war against Iran, but we should be able to reach a consensus on how to best spend that heap of money...

Once the Golden State sale is closed, we'd be able to travel "abroad" quite cheaply, with little jet lag, and most of us would have a strong incentive to learn Chinese instead of spending too much time shopping, because we'd all know that it might just be a matter of time before our own state is also sold to China. Californians would quit boasting that they are the sixth economic power on earth, Californian universities will continue to accept a minority of non-Asian students, the state capital would be moved to San Francisco's Chinatown, Hollywood would finally be at peace with itself, promoting its productions as market-communism inspired and Silicon Valley could produce everything it can think of, quite cheaply, right in its own backyard.

I've saved the best for last, though. This sale would go a long way into solving our immigration problem. Illegal migrations flows would now be reversed and go from North to South, with Tijuana erecting a fence of its own, and if the experiment gets legs, we could subsequently sell Arizona, New Mexico and Texas to the Chinese so they can be in full control of the issue and, with the proceeds, give one free iPhone to each remaining US Citizen. Don't laugh, a Chinese California might be the solution we've all been waiting for strengthening America!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Crocs of the matter

From the very day Crocs appeared on the market, my wife and I made a promise never to purchase these faddish plastic clogs. These were the symbol of the boom times and the waste that preceded our economic collapse and we often made fun of all the big, fat adults who thought they looked cool by wearing them. We couldn't get off our minds the fact that when, made in China at a cost of $1.75, these objects could fetch $30! Well, we sure changed our tune and our staunch resolve suddenly melted, when we caught a glance of a cute pair of orange Crocs that we though would be just right for our grandson Finn. They say only idiots never change their minds and we certainly did. We fell in love with the idea and wiped out our stiff, logical and boring view of the world. Our participation was probably “too little, too late” as Crocs is now rumored to be going bankrupt, but you see, huge popularity followed by a steep nosedive is often the crux of the matter in business!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Basic thoughts about health-care

Back in June, I was reporting an article from the Economist stating that the US spends 15.4% of GDP on health care, including government and private expenses. This gets us 2.6 doctors per 1,000 people, 3.3 hospital beds and we live to an average age of 78.2.
This contrasted to the whole of Europe where 9.6% of GDP is spent on health care, where there are 3.9 doctors per 1,000 people, 6.6 hospital beds and its citizens live to 81.15 years.

Okay, the basic picture here is that we could save 6% of GDP, which is almost $1 trillion and we'd all be better off than we're today. If we manufactured Boeing planes or Apple products 60% more expensive than Airbuses or Philips products, we'd very quickly be wiped out economically and closed for business forever. We've already lost most of our manufacturing base and soaring health care costs will soon cripple the rest of our economy. That's a simple of that.

We need to place price controls on the medical profession and push insurance companies out of insuring health care and replace them with a single payer system. We should in the process limit malpractice law-suits, make medical school tuition free to unburden physicians with disabling student loans, and make sure that “big Pharma” sells its products for no more here at home than it does elsewhere. The trillion dollar saved would more than pay for transitioning to a great health care system. The problem is crystal clear; it's all about excess greed, bribed congressmen and a nation that keeps its head stuck deep in the sand.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


For people like me that leave their home country to settle far away, there always seems to be a good reason to feel homesick at one time or another. For the first 27 years or so, I was traveling extensively between Europe and the USA and had plenty of time to get an overdose of my hometown; after a few days – what am I saying, a few hours - in my old surroundings, it was the same old thing and I was ready to move on or go home. I remembered the experience, and more often than not, it never quite measured with my memories; in fact, it felt as if I had outgrown the persona that I once had in that particular setting. Before cheap telecommunications and the internet, it was in fact hard, if not impossible, to remain culturally current with the “old country.” Nowadays, with satellite TV, streaming audio, Skype, web-cams and instant messages, the world has shrunk in ways that once were unimaginable. Do I still feel homesick? Not really; there's always a European friend or a sight of Haute-Savoie at my fingertips, and if I travel over there only every year or so, that's enough to update my curiosity and refresh my collection of mental pictures!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Outstanding bike service...

This year we've been late for getting back into our mountain bike saddles; June's weather probably contributed to our procrastination and last week, we finally decided to have our bikes undergo a complete “physical;” I got new tires and my wife received a new derailleur cable system. This year, for the first time, we decided to try Jans bike technicians and last night, as I was taking my Jamis Dakar for the first ride of the season around Round Valley, I couldn't believe how smooth and easy my bike felt. Just like a brand new machine and in spite of my 60+ years, it felt like riding on Cloud Nine. None of the three other Park City shops that we had used before had ever done such a great job; kudos to the Park City Jans' bike technicians!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Resolving complex matters

There are a lot of incidents that can be deeply aggravating but are easy to fix. We know which steps to follow, how much resources to bring forth and after some initial pain we soon forget that they even occurred. Other challenges are a different story; when we're faced for the first time with an unknown experience, or might have gone through something similar without being able to solve it, we feel so overwhelmed by the apparent difficulties, the ever changing circumstances, it's hard to clearly remember a step-by-step approach to resolving the problem if it were to represent itself at some point in the future. This is what I want to talk about.

Complexity, unfamiliarity with the environment, lots of moving parts going into all directions, combine to making the matter very intimidating and extremely difficult to resolve. The murkiness of the situation has also a repellent effect on us, and a natural response is to stay away from it. So what are the solutions? Persistence and ability to stare at the challenge are key ingredient to eradicate it. It should become part of our daily routine and qualify to the question “what I am doing at the moment to get closer to a solution?”

Waiting is only good to momentarily clear up our mind and let ideas germinate, but should not be a blank check lasting forever; it can only be sporadic and temporary. If we have enough faith in ourselves and are consistent in our search, the skies will eventually clear and a solution will profile itself. If we've done a great job and haven't been saved by luck alone, we soon will be able to add that particular skill set to our personal quiver and re-use it brilliantly the next time it returns into our lives...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A late July hit parade

We haven't had a hit parade yet on this blog. Now is time to have one; we're simply going to rank the smartest, most influential and doers on this earth since day one. Right, since Adam and Eve. To do that, I've assembled a panel of experts, great friends and no-nonsense individual to help me sort between Attila the Hun, Alexander the Great, Buddha, Napoleon and Ronald Reagan to name just a few. After 5 days of deliberations we found that Barack Obama easily won the contest and the Palestinian Jesus-Christ came a distant second. Yes, I was surprised, Thomas Edison came in third. I won't dwell on those that followed but it shows that we have a great man in charge and if you value history, you should watch him in action! Just ask me for a copy of the entire study...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Looking for a “middle political way...”

I've always thought there should be a wonderful place for a political movement that is social liberal and fiscal conservative, but unfortunately, the American electorate is stuck with a liberal choice that likes to spend – even if it's less than its conservative opposition, and then a right wing party that is anti-abortion, pro-religion, anti-gay and has no time left to be fiscally responsible. That's right, the remarkable thing both parties have in common is that they love to rely on bribes from the great American lobby to get reelected and to pretend they're public servants. With this in mind, you can see that the political market is not offering me the product I desperately want, so like millions of others I have to compromise, make damning choices over and over, and frankly I'm tired of it. When will a political wing that represent my aspiration come into being? I thought that America was second to none when it came to political marketing...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Innovation and (near) perfection

The commemoration of the lunar visit is another reminder that innovation is fuel for progress. Down the bumpy road we're traveling I'm convinced that innovation, not Christ's second coming, will save humanity. The problem with that though, is most humans are a bit slow to pick up and adopt new trends or new technologies. We're incredibly attached with the way things are and really need to be pushed into adopting something that is radically new. Even when improvements are clearly beneficial, most of us will drag our feet to adopt and implement them.

Over the years, it's been clear that successful innovations were the ones that were the most user-friendly, intuitive and properly debugged before they hit the market. Citroën, the French automaker was the poster child for newness going awry; great idea, poor execution; there isn't a day when I see a Toyota Prius or Honda Insight that I'm not reminded of the Citroën's foresight. Apple is the antithesis of that and explains why its iPod and iPhone products were so successful. Bottom line, if innovation is to be successful, better make sure that it passes the test of near-perfection and that it brings compelling progress so users can be nudged into taking that step forward and enjoying the future!

Monday, July 20, 2009

My addiction for weeding

What a better segue-way to yesterday's blog than talking about my weeding addiction. That's right, we all know about the nefarious side of addictions like smoking drinking and doing illicit drugs. My addiction, although not unhealthy, is no less deeply engrained. It started with our previous home, when – ahead of our times – we decided in favor of a natural landscaping and re-vegetated the surroundings of our new house the way they were before construction began. The endeavor meant getting rid of a multitude of weeds over a period of six to eight years; seems hard to believe, but like most uninvited guests, weeds can really be tenacious.

These days, in our more traditional garden, weeds are still present and need to be eradicated. Most of the time, it's just good therapy, but when I'm really mad at myself (or somebody else) it become the best anger management tool ever devised. This form of behavior is an incredible mean to speed up time and while I know this is bad, it's sometime hard to resist the song of these deep-rooted earthly mermaids... Since it's a deep addiction, it doesn't require any effort. Just seeing a conspicuous plant that's not part of the accepted family gives me – and my wife, I should add – a passionate rush. If you're interested in picking up this great dependency, just contact me for extra tips.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The greening of my thumb

When I was a kid, my parents tended a bountiful vegetable garden, but I didn't want any part of it. I felt then that I was too good to bend over, toil in the dirt and lower myself to humble farming endeavors. As a result, I deliberately ignored anything that had to do with gardening, from its basic tools to its earthly environment. Later, as I was well into my thirties, I remember growing tomatoes in our suburban New York home with pretty good success, but this was only part-time dedication. From that point forward, we moved to Utah, a dry state in more ways than one, and gardening became a distant memory. After owning two stunning contemporary homes in Park City, we finally settled on a small, plain abode for which we literally fell in love. Over the past six years, we've put a lot of personal work into our latest residence and among other things, have developed a wonderful garden that gets better season after season. For over a year, we've also resumed our veggie garden and while I had to learn everything from scratch, having ignored the mentoring my parents would have gladly passed on to me, this year's crop has provided most of the green we've eaten this so far this summer. At this point, gardening has become one of our top pastimes, along with running, skiing, hiking and mountain biking. Call it a definite form of “greening...”

Saturday, July 18, 2009

US Ski Team new digs...

Like all Park City residents, I was invited yesterday to attend the grand opening of the new USSA's headquarters, called “Center of Excellence” in the presence of the usual personalities and a few athletes including Park City's own, Ted Ligety. After 35 years in Park City, the US Ski Team now has its own three-level 85,000-square foot home built on five acres. The $22 million vision of USSA's CEO Bill Marolt stands like a castle on the hill where USSA's youngest members can work out with America's best. In addition to the usual offices, and other other administrative facilities, it offers the best of high-performance athletic facilities including strength-training areas, a gymnasium, ski and snowboarding ramps, trampolines, a nutrition center and recovery/rehabilitation facilities. Plus, it features educational areas for athletes, coaches and clubs such as a computer lab, multimedia rooms for performance analysis and equipment workshops, as well as a full sport science lab. While, as a Parkite, I'm proud to have that wonderful facility in town, the obvious question that comes to mind, is whether that sumptuous facility isn't a little too much, especially in view of the fact that athletes may only use the place a full one or two month during the year? That's a valid, open question, only blunted by the fact that all its funding is said to have come from private donations.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Keeping an open mind...

This is the follow up to yesterday's blog. In order to see clearly, we need to have and keep an open mind at all times. This is much easier said than done! How do we do that? Here is my take on the question; first, it's important to take any information pushed upon us with a large grain of salt. No matter where it comes from, and especially if it comes from like minds or originates from an ideology close to our own... Next, we need to seek opposite points of view, even if that exercise is rather unpleasant or outside of our immediate sphere of interest; unless we do this, however, we'll never know what the “other side” in thinking and we maybe missing too on some very good views.

In a political context, we should survey both extremes (right and left) both mainstream right and left and of course the center, plus any other interesting trends that fail to fall neatly into any established category. It's undeniable that we all come with some baggage (cultural, educational, religious or just temperamental and it becomes our responsibility to filter everything that gets in the way of the desired outcome. This finally brings me to the most important part of the process, which is simply to know what our values ought to be and may evolve over time, so we can always keep the “end in sight.” So in order to clear up our intellectual house, we should never forget where we're going...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

We are the information we get

It's pretty clear that in addition to our personal background and education, our opinions are formed by what we read, watch and listen to. The problem of course is how do we decide what's not a waste of our time, is not just exploitative or driven by fads, is sound, intelligent and offers balanced views on a particular issue. Another way to express this is to ask ourselves, are we capable of thinking critically? Self-interest, honesty, ideology, education and culture without a doubt play a huge role on the way we think. In the past, propaganda, ideology popular culture and religion were effective at blunting objectivity.

Today, they've been in large part replaced by the political “spin” and the modern PR machinery that has seeped into our lives. It becomes quite clear that only those folks who have a huge dose of objectivity, curiosity and open-mindedness can think clearly in the increasingly complicated world we're living in... I'm not even touching on some re-enforcements that consist of the friends we have and the associations or church we belong to. Soon, we'll explore approaches that can help us remain alert, skeptical and always on the lookout for misinformation...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Fun jobs

For the past few days, I've been sealing our slate floor. This particular material covers our entire living room, kitchen, powder room, main stairway and mud room. This is the kind of job I enjoy because it provides me with instant gratification as I can see the difference my work is making over an otherwise dull and uninteresting floor material.

A tangible impact is what makes life worth living and a job worth doing. This is something one appreciates most after a career spend in which most of the daily work had no measurable impact that could be fully appreciated at the end of each day. Instead, the result was that blurry impression that came at the end of a season or of a quarter, and when it happened, the reward was never really able to fully stand apart amidst the drudgery of work. When things didn't go as well as expected, the slap in the face was an unwelcome feedback that always happened too late in the process to brand the desired, positive experience. This is why today, I love whatever can be measured...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mid-point reference...

I find it very useful, when I glance into the future, to see the equivalent time period from the past. Let me explain; just yesterday, as I was trying to project myself 20 years down the road, I was also thinking about my stage in life the same 20 twenty years ago, namely sometime in 1989. What has changed in that interval? Lots of things; I was working then, I'm not now, our children were still kids, now they're adults, we still were in the midst of the cold war, China wasn't a major player on the world scene, GM was still a thriving company and the environment appeared okay to most...

I find that approach quite helpful in helping me predict the future, not because I believe history repeats itself – I think it doesn't in the ways most people think – but it helps me put time into perspective and measure the change surrounding me against my own transformation. Try this approach, it's an eye-opener!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Twenty years from now...

As they always do in two decades, things will be drastically different. For one thing I will be – if even I get there – in my early eighties and we'll all be in a kind of survival mode, with all natural resources (including foodstuff and water) heavily taxed, as they should have been long ago. Everything will have become much more efficient, from transportation to housing, and obviously to communications. Good service will have become very, very expensive and so will have living as a whole. There will be over 8 billion people on the planet and we'll need to make huge accommodations for that.

Everything that is produced whether it's goods or most “transmissible” services will be done globally. What used to be called “developed nations” at the beginning of the century will be earning far less than they used to a quarter of a century before. Conversely, the rest of the world and some nations will be doing a little bit better, but too many countries will still be “left behind,” constantly stressing the geopolitical climate. Climate will have changed drastically beyond hope to ever be reversed, and society will have become a little bit more aware of its fragile livelihood and survival. Will humanity be happier than today? Yes, because it would have discover that things could gotten much worst... This is my forecast; what's yours?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Education and culture

I'm one of these folks who believe that education can be a cure-all and that with enough of it, we can make the world a much better place. I'm thinking in particular about population growth, one of my top existential concerns and have believed for a long time that a flood of knowledge could mop up ignorant practices from the face of this earth. This is without counting of course on culture, this formidable creature that is the hiding place of religion, superstition and the last bastion of obscurantism. Culture is everywhere, and the older it is, the harder it is to eradicate in ways that are fast and durable. Culture is a two-headed monster that we cherish because we always seem able to find some of our roots into it and yet we hate because it's retrograde. I go on record to say that it's better to live into a world that has an homogenized culture than on a planet that headed for self-destruction ...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Another Food and Wine Festival

This year, we had the original idea to volunteer at the Park City Food and Wine Festival. We woke up and got ready early this morning for an 8 am to 3 pm shift, and ended up working our butts off which was not our original expectation. As we already knew, volunteers vary a lot, not just in size and weight but also in basic work ethics. The rule is more like “I show up late and hide a lot...” Then guess what, the old gang (folks like us,) end up doing all the heavy lifting! The benefit were just okay, the ubiquitous t-shirt, a few sips of wine and then a $75 face value ticket each for the “Epicurean Extravaganza” that kicked off when our shift and lasted until about 6 pm. Problem was there were long lines at each stand (the better wines or the tastier food the longer the time needed to wait for a small morsel or small sip of wine.) After 90 minutes of that, we had more than enough, and while still totally sober, we caught the bus that took us back near our home. When we finally reached our destination we agreed that this would be our last attempt to that kind of voluntarism...

Friday, July 10, 2009

Where to get the money...

The aftermath of the go-go years, including the cost of rescuing our financial institutions as well as car companies, the cost of shoring up social security and medicare, plus that of the stimulus package, will weigh heavily on the US economy and many fear it might bring us down to our knees. There's a solution though that would offset this outpouring of public money that no one has even had the guts to mention. As I suggested back in December, the government should move to tax gasoline by progressively adding an extra dollar per gallon over the course of one year.

No one would really “feel” it and it would behoove all of us to seriously conserve. As I have said then, such a tax - if applied across the board from gasoline to diesel, all the way to jet fuel - could produce one extra trillion in yearly revenue, would stimulate fuel-efficient vehicles, conservation, mass-transit solutions, and pull us out of the ditch we've been parked ourselves into. Later on, as these extraordinary expenditures are mopped up, that money could be use to seriously develop alternative renewable energy sources. Dear government, can you please show us some courage and act on this idea?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Wednesday free concerts

Like the perfect diamond, Park City has so many facets that, even if you try very hard, it's hard to ever see them all and to take advantage of some of the multitude of events that are going on. Last night, we had to almost “pinch ourselves” in order to remember that Wednesday is “Free Concert Night” sponsored by Frontier Bank and staged in the Deer Valley open air auditorium. We packed our picnic, carried our folding chairs and very soon joined at least a thousand of others for a great outdoor dinner under a clear sky and an absolutely perfect temperature. While the Fat Paw band was performing and sounded just great we got to observe lots of other folks and had a delightful time. Now we just need to remind ourselves every Wednesday night that we've got to “get out of our place!”

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Can local politics influence community economics?

In a few months, Park City will elect a new mayor and in the process may or may not take a new direction. One question of course, is can a new mayor change the economic path a small town is moving on? It first depends on what constitutes the community's economic viability. In Park City's case, it's quite simple; all resolve around tourism, with two mountain resorts (Deer Valley and Park City), the tourist-magnet that Main street stands for and of course a huge real business that used to be – not so long ago – a multi-billion dollar activity and that's now bracing for a momentous crash.

Sure, there's a large portion of the constituency that apparently could care less about tourism; they're all the Parkites that commute to Salt Lake to earn a living or those who are simply retired in town. Without tourism however, our town would be a far cry from the rich and vibrant community is has grown into over the years. I believe that a mayor who has a dynamic development plan along with an active city council can make a huge difference in our small economy. “Coasting” as we have seen it for the past eight year is no longer acceptable and we need more of a catalyst effect coming from City Hall to re-energize the entire town!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

American fat

America is known the world over for the excess fat we wear on our bodies. Yet, the amount varies from state to state. In a new yearly analysis by CalorieLab, Inc. Colorado was found once again the “slimmest state in the Nation” despite an increase in obesity of 0.8% over three years. The fattest state was Mississippi for the third straight year in a row. How did Utah fare in that fatty contest? We placed 8th overall behind of course Colorado, Hawaii, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island and Montana. This is not too bad, but we could do better if I least we slurped less Jell-O on Sundays and less ice-cream the rest of the week. We could probably beat Colorado, but it would take for the “republic of Park City” to break-away from Utah and apply for statehood, but that would be too much paperwork! Could we beat the Japanese whose obese population is below 5% or even the Europeans who hover around 12%? Probably not, but we might get to a respectable 15% just like our Canadian neighbors; enough of that though, I'm already late for my daily run...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Finn and the cow bell

Yesterday, Finn came and visited us for the afternoon and, as usual, brought an extra dose of sunshine to an already superb day. Aside from Tommy, our neighbor's golden retriever, Finn fell in love with the bronze cow bell that we had custom-made in Champéry, Switzerland for our 30th wedding anniversary. Every time he, or someone else rang this powerful sound source, Finn was exploding with laughter and while he couldn't say it, was probably wishing he was in the middle of some Alpine pasture or cheering up some ski racer at a future World Cup...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The “reset button”

These days, the term “reset button” is something we talk a lot about. I've first heard it in the context of US-Russian relationships, but soon after I heard the same applied to the financial crisis, the economy as well as personal re-invention. This kind of pipe-dream device is akin of catholic confession; you can mess-up a lot and in just one blink everything gets repaired and supposedly back to the point it stood before. Call it a miracle if you will, or something analogous to the “undo” button on your computer . Instead, I'm a believer that whatever gets torn apart needs first to be mended back to its previous state before it can be possible to resume any kind of function. So whether it's our relationship with the Russians or any other topic, there's no magic substitute for fixing things first and then making a sincere effort to rebuilt whatever was thrown into a state of disrepair...

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Fourth of July Parade

Today we walked to town for the fourth of July Parade, our nation 233rd birthday and our town's 125th! We often do that and this is a good reason to cover a full 5 mile without even realizing it. This year's event had its usual floats, but nothing exceptional or incredibly innovative. I personally liked the Stein Eriksen Lodge's pair of mine carts with rugged miners and scantily clad belles as passengers, that showed a tad of originality. What was remarkable this year though were the crowds; we thought they were huge and stood as a testimony that more people than ever went for a “staycation” instead of a trip during the long weekend. We saw a few people we know and watched the whole procession next to Cheryl and Mark, our Park City second-home neighbors who live in Santa Cruz, California, the rest of the time. All in all this was a fun outing, filled with casual Park City style...

Friday, July 3, 2009

Identifying the obstacle

Whether you climb a mountain, sell commodities or play golf, there's always a major obstacle that stands in your way to success. We could call that your nemesis; you're not quite sure it's the problem although all your senses point to its direction and when you start thinking it's not, it begins rearing its ugly head again. Typically, a nemesis is an entanglement of contradictions; it seems omnipotent yet it is fundamentally weak, it might have good reason for its obstructionist power yet it really has none. It has just positioned itself into a perfectly protected cocoon that is both an armor and a hiding place. As a result, it grows bigger in our mind than reality as we fail to fully understanding it. We mythologize the beast instead of breaking it apart into weaker and winnable components. It's only when we start taking the obstacle for what it really is that its luster begins to pale off and it become assailable. If you can recognize “beasts” like the one I'm trying to describe, tell me how you can overcome them?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Things we can change...

In life there are things we can change and others we can't do much about. We sure can shine the spotlight onto them, but if no one cares or is motivated to follow the guidance, then, all the efforts engaged might be in vain. Just like in “Selling 101,” there has to be some tangible benefits to dangle in front of the buyer to justify that the money is well spent. When people can't imagine the way they might feel once the product or the service offered is obtained, they probably won't buy it. It's clear that changing minds and eliciting a purchasing decision or a shift into a different direction involves modifying views, educating, convincing and demonstrating that the proposed change is worth it. Sometimes, the offer is so ahead of its time that the vast majority can't even understand it, yet alone fathom its benefits. The work of conviction is an uphill battle and there might be countless other great battles worth fighting for instead of beating a dead horse. But tell me, is the horse dead yet?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

When innovation takes over routine

I'm sold on innovation; in it, I see the “second coming” or at the very least, the rescue hatch for the entire planet. With my very valuable time on the earth ticking away like crazy, I've had the revelation last night that my mere existence was far too precious to be wasted on mundane thoughts and ordinary undertakings. From that day forward, I'm all for bringing an innovative slant into everything I see, anything I think about and whatever I decide to embrace. Nothing will be a repeat of yesterday unless there's really no other substitute. The ruts are already deep enough and it's time to get out while there's still a chance... Watch me!