Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Toys for toddlers...

We've always observed that the simpler the toy, the less “toyish,” that is the less elaborate and pretentious it is, the more small kids will play with it. This rule doesn't appear to escape our grandson Finn, who is approaching 19 month and had a grand time playing with plastic containers while we were watching him yesterday and paying no attention to many “professional” and sophisticated toys that are available to him and that he doesn't even look at, let alone play with.

Adults clearly project their own views of what a kid would like to have when they purchase toys and buy whatever “educational virtues” a toy is supposed to embody from the marketer, when in fact, kids of all ages seems to get more mileage out of simple objects in which they have room to expand their own imaginative and creative resources. So that's it, playing with boxes, cardboard boxes, paper shopping bags and old telephones go much farther than the latest Fischer-Price contraption, even when the batteries are... included!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My need to communicate

I love to stay in touch with people I like, I love to chat on the phone with friends and it sometimes drives my wife crazy. I don't see how I could survive on a deserted island or in prison. Communication is my oxygen, my mental form of breathing, and now with modern technology, it has become a fun daily pursuit that ends up consuming quite a large chunk of my available time.

Some studies have found that people who regularly seek the contact of others tend to live longer. Talking, communicating, and constantly staying in touch is my way to embracing life, feeling all of its excitement and looking forward to the future instead of curling up, reminiscing and taking refuge into the past...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Father and son

Yesterday was another fun day in a row, because not only did I catch a glimpse of my grandson, but I also got to help my son on a home improvement project. This doesn't happen very often, but when it does, I enjoy the occasion thoroughly. I feel that it's good to be doing something together and while we don't need to speak much, the atmosphere always feels good and wholesome.

After all, aren't the greatest pleasures in life the simplest ones?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Watching freestyle jumpers

We are not great spectators, especially when it comes to sports. We'd rather do the things ourselves, but like we watched surfers in Hawaii a week earlier, we watched with wide-open eyes young athletes training on the several trampolines and on the freestyle jumps, all geared up with skis and snowboards, taking some really big air 60 feet up above, jamming as many acrobatic tricks as they could, some perfects and others not-so, before splashing into the 750,000 gallon pool below. Our eyes were wide-open, we held our breath and we truly impressed with the show. Before we knew it, it was already 4:30 pm; that's right, this is just about the only way we could spend an afternoon, sitting by the pool...

Testing the “Xtreme Zipline”

Yesterday afternoon was the much anticipated time to test our courage by taking a ride on the “Xtreme Zipline” which happens to be the world’s steepest. Located at the Utah Olympic Park next to the K 120 Olympic ski jump. The start and preparation is much more impressive than the ride itself, especially when the gate hiding the abyss is about to fly open and kick you out at some 50 miles per hour. We made it unscathed, it was fun and for a few seconds we felt as we were peregrine falcons!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Turtle follow-up...

Early September, we spotted a surprise visitor in our garden, called around and gave the large amphibian to Susan Morris who opened up a big shoe-box, then her home to the stranded animal. Last night, as we were walking to a neighbor's house for dinner, we caught up with the Morrises who where relaxing in their front yard and asked them about their new adopted pet.

To our collective chagrin, they told us the turtle had escaped after only staying one week in their home, without even leaving a thank-you note. So, if you happen to live in Park City and run into a lone turtle, let Susan and Ted Morris know. Also, as the season gets cooler and you are more likely to be served soup than salad for lunch or dinner, watch carefully what's in your plate!

Friday, September 25, 2009

A “must-have” rack...

If you want a beefed-up car rack or get a bit closer to nature, I can't recommend too much that you seriously consider getting one or two pairs of “Truck Antlers.” I'm not saying you'd want to carry your bike or your all-mountain skis on 'em, but it might work for your fishing line or cross-country boards. Even though that unique accessory was initially designed with rugged trucks in mind, nothing prevents you from installing a set on your Mini, BMW or even Lamborghini... If you act soon, you can get one pair at Amazon for $21.97 instead of paying the suggested retail price of $29.99 and you'll be set in time for hunting season.

Besides turning your vehicle into a buck, this item brings extra benefits, like fighting road rage or rattling in a big buck; that's right, these antlers are also functional rattle horns; grab them by the base, rattle them together and watch the bucks come running. In season, decorate your antlers with garland, jingle bells or wreaths to display your holiday spirit. Now, a few words of caution; first, be sure the points face forward, that's how animals walk, check for clearance when mounting these devices as the antlers should not reach out further than your side-view mirrors and don't forget to check with law enforcement agencies for any local antler-size regulation!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

High beams!

American ingenuity will never cease to amaze me; the other night in the plane, a passenger sitting next to me was sporting a cap, with LED lights on the visor, and that way, could clearly read her book to the amazement of all the other folks that happened to catch the scene.

Her “thinking cap” was a bit weird if not kitsch looking, but appeared quite functional nonetheless. So for your next night flight, start looking for that magic cap that will greatly facilitate your reading of Tolstoi or whoever your favorite author happens to be...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Our Hawaiian experience

Now that our Hawaii vacation is over, and before we forget everything, I wanted to take a few moments to reflect upon our best memories and experience during a fun week of great weather outside our mountain environment. Perhaps the most visual souvenir will be some of the best world's surfers of all persuasions dancing on the waves at Ho'okipa beach, neck to neck with the postcard-quality sunsets we were treated to each evening. These two images of course are “quintessential Polynesia.”

Next in the pecking order probably is the drive to Hana, amidst a full-fledged jungle, including the tortuous and adventurous return trip on the barren and rugged southeastern corner of the island. Another drive comes very close to it through the opposite corner of Maui and Nakadeli point, its famous “blowhole” and its countless rock-piles, not to mention the tricky one-way road portion and the surprise Turnbull sculpture exhibit in Wailuku. Our visit to Iao Park completed our most remarkable sights, but we must admit that ascending the 10,000 foot Haleakala volcano didn't impress us too much.

A notable, touristy experience was the old style Luau in Lahaina that was okay but overly “staged” and felt like a typical tourist gimmick. In terms of the towns we visited, two of them win hands down. First Pa'ia, the funky little former plantation town and Laheina, the old whaler's port in spite of its numerous tourist trappings. The rest of the entire leeward cost didn't impress us too much, but I guess this is what has to happens when there is so much good stuff to see and experience. Granted, we had a tough time seeing and feeling the “aloha” spirit and concluded that it must have been overrated, and finally, in spite of a weather too hot and sticky for our taste, the sum of our experiences was largely positive...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hawaii, hot and humid

As we're ready to leave Maui and return back to our cold Utah mountains, we'll regret the gorgeous sunsets over the Pacific, but won't miss one droplet of the high humidity and one degree of the hot weather that have marked every day we've been there. The grueling part of course was to get going in the morning and accomplish our daily run. Usually, running for us is second nature, requires no thinking, no effort and never creates any sense of dread. That wasn't the case in Hawaii, where every morning run was another prowess to achieve, another Everest to conquer.

Sure, we were running alongside the ocean, among all kinds of exotic plants and flowers and amidst some magical scents. There was also that wonderful feeling on running on some four miles of boardwalk in... Trex! But none of these mitigating factors was any help when we had to get going at 6 in the morning and put in motion limbs that felt so stiff and so unwilling to propel us forward. Another forgotten good reason why, for us, hot, humid and running don't mix well at all!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Measuring America's girth

There's nothing like being at a beach resort for taking a good measurement of the true girth of America. This is the only place where you can see it all, handing out from all possible sides. Call it what our budgets, whether personal, state or federal are missing most; an awful lot of surplus. This applies to all, men and female, middle aged and old folks. The only ones who escape some of that bulging trend might the younger set. So after seeing all this extra padding on display for a full week, we are suddenly feeling much better about ourselves. We believed we had some nasty, extraneous fat, but now, we've suddenly promoted to the thin “elite.” That's the beauty of vacationing in Hawaii; here we are fortunate to feel extra thin... If we were on the French Riviera instead, we would be less lucky as a much thinner yardstick would be forced on us...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Paradise lost?

Years ago, the Pacific Islands stood as the antidote for civilization and their Aloha spirit were seen as a model of peaceful and idyllic lifestyle. For years, this has been just folklore and some of these qualities may survive as a fragile and thin veneer that is under threat of homogenization like everything else in this world. There are no safe places anymore and wherever TV, the internet or cell phone can penetrate, modern civilization takes over. Just like a fungus or some unstoppable virus. This always leaves me torn, as a part of me would like to safeguard anything that stands for true characters and unspoiled culture, and the other, more egalitarian and practical, would love to see an earth for the earthlings, with every one enjoying the same chance to be educated, enjoy a decent life and hopefully thrive.

This open mindset leaves less place for extremes in culture or societal systems and colors everything into the same, blend color. Is the place and the role of folklore just for not totally forgetting the past and entertaining tourists, or can it occupy a genuine place in defining the character of a certain locale?
I'm not sure. If it's not anchored in the heart of folks who deliver it, its future seems awfully limited and highly questionable. Will younger generations be willing to lend themselves to a continuous replay of something that has become meaningless to them? I think not, and with it, that colorful and artsy rendition of life that use to be is slowly going to vanish..

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Island living and me...

Living on an island conjures thoughts of leaving everything behind, burning all bridges and in a way, starting over. I certainly realize that it doesn't need to be that drastic and that many can be attracted to island living as a part-time endeavor. I guess, I love the mountains too much to consider even buying a second home on any island. The difficult access, the expense of just living there and the overall limitations island living implies, never ceases to bother me and I'm afraid that on it, I would become claustrophobic and feeling as if I had been stranded there.

I probably could live by the sea, as long as my place would be anchored to a continent be it Europe, America or something similar. Are Japan or Australia just islands and do they fall in that category? Not really, but anything smaller like New Zealand would make me queasy, not to mention the insulation factor. So this settles the debate; for the time being, I won't become an islander, Anywhere.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Maui vs. Corsica

As we're discovering Maui, we can't help but draw comparison between this Hawaiian island and Corsica. We love them both, but when we ask ourselves which one of our two favorite would we pick if we had to chose just one, this becomes a really tough question to answer. The obvious way of sorting out the merits of each island would be with sheer numbers, in which we'd compare Maui total land area of 727 square miles vs. Corsica's 1,400.

We could elevate the debate into altitude and compare Monte Cinto 8,880 feet with Haleakalā volcano and its own 10,000. We could also through in the population, with Maui's 130,000 compared to Corsica's 320,000. So we could say, Napoleon's birthplace is twice as big as Maui, but that would be without factoring in the “Aloha” spirit which stands for affection, love, peace, compassion and mercy. and putting it up against the Corsican mentality defined by honor, independence, insubordination, touchiness and heightened grudge. Well, in my mind there's no contest. The Hawaiian island wins hands down; besides, their fish tastes much better, their weather is really hard to beat and their sunsets are second to none!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Another day at the office?

First time in Hawaii, and hopefully not the last! This afternoon Evelyne and I were treated to a wonderful, spontaneous and hair-raising windsurfing show at the Ho'okipa Beach Park, near Ha'iku in Maui. Boy! Aren't these guys and girls impressive... For about an hour, we sat perfectly still, mesmerized, watching these men and women floating in the air, over the waves, flipping into mid-air and turning on a dime. I wish I were still in my twenties and able to join them, but I'll have to console myself with another snow season. Call this perfection skimming wave crests and raging waters or another way of mastering effortless glide and the payoff of endless days of practice. Totally inspiring!

Racists after Obama!

Over this past weekend, mob demonstrations showed some of America's true color and stood as a convincing sign that racism, also official banned and socially incorrect, is still running strong under the guise of folks claiming they're fed up with “big government.” These same individuals, many of white-trash persuasion, brain-washed libertarians, southern conservatives and bible-toting fanatics never showed up during the Bush years to protest public money being dilapidated in Iraq or the Nation's financial debasing for serving unbridled consumerism. One could have thought that Obama’s election to the Presidency was all there would be to public resistance to his mixed race origins, but now that the opposition, the lobbies and all the losers are waking up, they seem incapable to stand that young, smart and capable leader. They feel the urge of bringing him down so they can, once more, feel half-way good about themselves.

Few (but former President Carter) will call this behavior as what it truly is, given the subject's burning nature, but this, in my judgment, remains a very potent truth. Of course, it's not the first time that Barack Obama has to face these mean pressures and false pretenses and I'm quite confident that he'll be quite able to deftly navigates their murky waters. It creates however an undeniable unease that will further increase the chasm between the two main American ideologies and the people they claim to represent. We just need to hang on tightly for a while and remain vigilant during that unpleasant ride...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Lessons from Obama

In his last interview with CBS on “60 Minutes,” Barack Obama gave a glimpse on how he skillfully answers tough questions and remains on top of a debate. First, he never directly falls into the trap of close-ended question; instead, he weaves in a long answer in which he says what he wants to say, and not necessarily what the close-ended question was begging him to say.

Then, when the journalist says something nasty or ask a mean open-ended questions he first smiles. Not a forced smile, but what appears to be a genuinely enthusiastically surprised smile; the kind of grin I'm sure our new president has spent a long time perfecting and brought to the most sincere level possible. These two approaches to answering tough questions were a revelation to me. I've promised myself to practice them and use them every time I'm put on the spot during negotiations or unpleasant exchanges. In the meantime, do yourself a favor, watch the video and let me know if you agree with my findings...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Call it luck...

Aside from its mountains, hiking, mountain biking, summer concerts and snow sports, Park City offers a wonderful institution called the “Park City Film Series.” We are true fans and always make time to attend its screenings and to volunteer on its behalf during the Sundance Film Festival. What's great about it, is that just prior the evening show there's a raffle, where your entry ticket can win you all sorts of things from racy underwear, to corned-beef, to books or even free lunch coupons.

As we were attending last night session and there were around 70 spectators in attendance, Evelyne and I, sitting next to each other, won a price for each one of us. I am no statistician but we might as well call that a chance in a million! Up until now, we had won our statistical share, no less no more, but last night something special was in the air. We'll sure watch the DVD we got and will do the “Xtreme Zipride” at the Utah Olympic Park and, yes, I'll never play Russian roulette again!

From business to politics, jail and show-business

A few nights ago we watched “Oscar” a French vaudeville starring, among others actors, Bernard Tapie. Well, that character is one of a kind and started his public career as a high-flying entrepreneur and LBO expert with lesser-known companies all the way to Adidas. He then became a politician, French cabinet member, owned a sport team, went to jail for a while and is now... an actor! I never liked the guy; I thought he was an egomaniac and epitomized everything I didn't like about greed, business and politics.

What was remarkable though, is while Regan and Schwarzenegger had cleared a path from acting to politics, our man had accomplished the exact opposite! To return to the show, while the rest of the cast was pretty dismal and I had some very strong biases against him, Tapie did a fairly good job and led me to think that he finally had found his true calling; I just fell sorry that it took him so long and he had to go through such a tortuous set of circumstances to discover it!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

More on plumbing

Before I forget the incident (I frankly doubt I ever will) I wanted to relate another plumbing story that happened several years ago as we moved into our current home. At that time, we were doing lots of renovations and not a single day would go without one of us with a paint brush in hand doing repainting or touch-up work. One day, the toilet bowl in our powder room got clogged and, as always, I tried to come to the rescue with my various tools, including the classic plunger, my portable “snake” and finally, as nothing seemed to work, an abortion-doctor coat hanger.

All my attempts remained in vain and fearing some Loch Ness monster haunting the big pipes underneath the toilet bowl, I decided to dismount the latter, a major plumbing job. I did it but after thoroughly exploring the pipes below and short of jumping into the street's sewer manhole, I still couldn't the roots of the problem. I then re-installed the porcelain seat, but the clog was still there. I knew the appliance was either possessed by some solid-waste demon or was playing a trick on me and decided to replace it with a new one. Once more I dismounted it and replaced it.

This time it finally worked, everything flowed marvelously and before tossing the defective piece into the garbage, I had to satisfy my curiosity by breaking the lower portion of the bowl with a hammer. That's only then that the source of the clog popped into full daylight. A medium-size paintbrush had found its way in the middle of the siphon and was solidly jammed in, letting the snake and other thin metal wire through but certainly not the other stuff... That's when I began to feel that plumbing had been my vocation all along!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

How to learn... plumbing

I don't know how many of you wanted to become a plumber when they were young but I certainly didn't. Leaky pipes, smelly holes and all the unpleasant work they evoked were not in my life script. I have since then reconciled myself with that lowly but so vital undertaking, not so much out of idealism, but of sheer necessity. My last foray is the plumbing world was two days ago when I set to repair a sink pop-up stopper and almost went crazy curled up inside a small cabinet underneath the sink. What started like a minor intervention ended up becoming a full-day project, something like Hank Paulson saving Bear Stearns. My face got red, I could hardly see what I was doing, swore a lot, took two trips to Home Depot and Standard Plumbing Supply, but in the end prevailed and can now tell you how a “sink pop-up stopper” really should work... or not, if you ever cared to know!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Nocturnal visits...

If finding a turtle in our yard is a once-in-a-lifetime event, I can't say the same about nocturnal visits by some ill-intentioned stinky skunk. This summer has particularly been bad, and between 2 and 4 am, when all we want to do is sleep, the pesky creature finds nothing better than spray its wonderful fragrance just under our bedroom balcony as if it were serenading us. What provokes these eruptions? I wish I could tell...

Perhaps it's my political views; that skunk must be a “southern republican” or something along these lines. It might also be that it hates skiing and want to get even with me for a lifetime of useless turns. At any rate the little black-and-white creature has a powerful scent; if I were dead and if that skunk circled my coffin, I'd probably resurrect. If that happened, it certainly would cure my deep-rooted atheism once and for all...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Obama comes through

President Obama's speech didn't exceed my expectations, it perfectly met them... I was expecting the very best from him and he delivered! What struck me was how retrograde the republican party has become, with virtually no good ideas to bring to the table and an outlook that is so backward, frozen and negative; the body language of the “other side” of the aisle was telling. I'm not even talking about Joe Wilson's intervention, the South Carolina representative who still lives in the 19th century. This said, I wonder why folks who see themselves as reasonably intelligent can still support such a regressive party and dying ideology...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Turtle invasion

Yesterday, as I was refreshing the mulch cover around our trees and flower beds, I happened to spot a... 20 inch turtle, that looked lost amidst our yard and seemingly asking for directions. We immediately called our immediate neighbors, thinking that their pet turtle might have escaped, but among the few we reached no one could claim that kind of a loss. Then when I called Susan Morris, another neighbor who has three small kids, she jumped on the opportunity, exclaiming “I take him!” and soon showed up in our yard with a cardboard box, to carry the precious cargo home.
No, we didn't think of making turtle soup...

Will Vail buy The Canyons?

On August 31, I heard a rumor that made a lot of sense, about Talisker, the owner of The Canyons Resort, spinning out its ski area operations and retaining its real estate only. This coming winter, Vail Resorts would pickup the mountain operations and that should prove to be an “epic” move for the entire Park City community as the Colorado based company is probably the only one in North America that that knows how to run a mountain resort and still has the more resources to do so.

Talisker, a Canadian-based operator is clobbered with expensive real estate development priced in the $1,000 + per square foot that no one has any appetite left for these days, plus Talisker has a huge note due this fall to pay for its foolish acquisition. Only two years ago Vail Resorts and Talisker fought bitterly for The Canyons that was then sold by American Skiing Company to Talisker, running its acquisition price well over $100 millions. Has any one heard anything that would corroborate this story?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Surprising sardines!

When I was a kid, and when “exotic” foods where a rarity on the family table, a freshly opened sardine can was the closest thing I knew to the best fish in the Alps. Yes, we sometimes ate a trout, but that was a very rare event as no one in the family spent anytime fishing the nearby brook and lake. So sardines have a powerful way to recall my gustatory experiences that strayed away from the good, but ordinary homemade foods that were a daily staple.

We've rediscovered sardines a few years ago as I needed to remind my taste buds about that lowly fish, and since I'm a dandelion addict, we experimented a bit with it by adding bits of sardine to replace bacon or boiled egg in that spring delicacy. The result was just stunning and ever since that moment, sardines often find their way into our salad, even if it's not just the seasonal dandelion. That little fish will never cease to surprise me...

Monday, September 7, 2009

In search of the perfect ski boot

Last night, my neighbor Frank Traczyk was telling me about his trials in finding a ski boot wide enough in the toe-box to fit his EEE foot. There are lots of myth about which boot make is in fact the best in accommodating the so-called “duck feet” and in my opinion, there's nothing like taking the time and making the effort to trying everything on the market within a certain performance range (read stiffness and features.)

To accomplish this, focus on a given shell dimension that's the closest to your street shoe size, then take out the liners and just place in your own insoles or custom footbeds. Put your larger foot in the appropriate shell so your toes barely touch the front, and lean forward. Stick a ½ inch dowel, a large magic marker or your finger down the back of each calf to your heel. If you can rattle it a bit, that’s a “performance fit.” If it fits but you can't rattle it, that’s closer to a “high-performance/race fit.” If you can’t even get it down there, the boot is way too small. Any more room than about two fingers and you are sacrificing response.

The reasoning behind shell fitting is simple: the shell drives the ski, while the liner (no matter what kind) packs out over time. This is for the shell length. In terms of sizing the toe-box, slide the forefoot sideways inside the shell – if needed, remove the insole for this exercise – and try to remember how much sideways “wiggle room” you get. At the same time, try to remember how the heel pocket feels like. If it's too cavernous, that is not a good omen. The area of tight fit you want in a ski boot is the first-third starting from the heel. Free space of “play” in the toe-box is far less critical; I'm of the opinion that in fact it's not that much relevant for performance. Try 'em all and good luck!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Diplomatic email

A good friend of mine is citing several examples of massive government programs that were supposedly meant to help and are shown to be grossly inefficient; this is to show that the US government is not equipped in any way to succeed with its health care plan and it should not compete with private industry. Since responding to such an email statement is a tricky endeavor, I've tried to do my very best to convince and not alienate. Here's how I've responded:

This interesting debate has to be seen in terms of which private sector enterprises are efficient and which aren't.
If we begin with what's super efficient in terms of value delivered to consumers, the internet and all its by-products from news, email, search tools, video and sound delivery plus on-line shopping stands as the best example. Another area is air transportation and accommodations where price transparency and abundant supply are a boon to travelers. For years, consumer products have in fact led the way as globalization, extensive distribution, open competition and use of technology have helped consumers getting consistent great deals.

Remarkably, what remains inefficient isn't so much what's heavily regulated, but what is staunchly protected by industries seeking monopoly status through heavy lobbying tactics and deep political infiltration. Our health care system stands as a blatant example (17% of GDP spending vs. less than 10% for similar developed countries offering better outcomes) and shows that countless interests are lining up their pockets (insurance and big pharma stand as the prime suspects as they're funneling tons of money to our politician...)

The same holds true with financial institutions and credit card companies that control Capitol Hill, real estate where there's no market transparency and where a whopping 6% commission is still required for a sliver of service, where unlimited mortgage deductions are subsidizing the entire industry through its powerful lobby. Telecoms are another bad example, where bundled services like broadband, cable TV and voice over IP can be obtained for one third of the price in some European countries. All this to say that big business de-facto control on government, to protect itself against open competition, is generally always bad.

However, I do agree that government bailouts and subsidies don't work; like the ones given to AIG, City Corp, GM and Chrysler, but also to the farm industry. The military-industrial complex has also been a leach on our treasury for years. Finally, there are many other insidious inequities like religious tax deductions or lavish corporate perks that all contribute to unfairly increasing our individual tax burden.

What's needed is a deep and true electoral system reform capable of chasing lobbyists out of Washington and keeping Congress and politicians on their toes. A good tax reform (read major simplification, with far less loopholes) wouldn't be bad either...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Lindsey Vonn steps from Rossignol to Head...

Call it an “epic move,” that money talks or something else, but it's now obvious that Lindsey Vonn has made the fateful switch from Rossi to Head as evidenced on her new Vail Resorts' website. The obvious question is what in the world was Rossignol thinking when they started to cut retainers and bonuses on some of their star performers in their stable? Shouldn't they have tried to at least protect their most visible, charismatic and winning racers and trimmed the extraneous members? One answer is that like the company itself, the race department must have been recently in a major state of flux. I can imagine the discussion with Bruno Cercley saying “You've gotta cut!” then a chorus by Michel Vion and Angelo Maina replying “If that's what you want us to do, we'll cut equally across the board...” So much for saving the “must-keep” champs! Again, this is just a hypothetical scenario that still is quite plausible.

Obviously, ski racing results are not everything and don't always translate into sales on the retail floor, but Lindsey, even more than Bode, had a huge untapped potential for helping the Rossi brands in returning to on-snow prominence. This development is more a “lose-lose” than a “win-win” for a parties concerned. For starters, it's a crack in Rossignol's credibility, a coup for Head, but with a legacy of Rossi imagery that will take a long time to fully flush out and an ambivalent situation for Lindsey. Obviously, Head was thinking differently and might be able to leverage that remarkable athlete if it manages to get its product and distribution's act together...

Friday, September 4, 2009

Evolution vs. revolution

I like new design and new technologies; in fact, I'm a sucker for everything that's new and often become “an early adopter.” There are two ways to get new products though; one is through “evolving iteration” and another is “creative explosion.” Call the latter a Big Bang of sort. Sure there's the in-between situation exemplified by the iPhone.For years, Toyota has built its business by espousing the slow and prudent evolutionary approach and has just strayed a tiny bit from that road when it introduced the Prius. While this reliance on evolution is by far the more predictable and safer road to take, it keeps us too deep into controlled ruts and deprives us from leaps into the future and from tasting the exceptional. It never debunks the paradigms we are so comfortable with and keeps us at slow speed. The “creative explosion,” my favorite, is the total opposite, fraught with danger, but always offering the best and greatest innovation potential.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Supplemental health insurance

As the health insurance debates rages around the nation, we too can attest that our health care system is dismal, too expensive and needs be reined in, hopefully with a single payer system down the road, like it's the case with most civilized countries. We have however, and for now a long time, taken steps to enhance our health coverage. We run every morning. We actually do it five times a week and if there is a big raining day, too much snow or if we just feel sick, we always catch up the time we've missed. We've been doing it for several decades (32 years, as far as I'm concerned) and we keep on doing it.

In addition to giving us a stimulating boost of energy, we believe it maintains us strong, keeps bad colds at bay, and I have even recently read that it was not bad, but rather good for certain joints like the knees! We find it to be the most important element in starting a good day, and more important than our morning coffee that we certainly love. We hope to stay with this insurance (read running) as long as our bodies can afford to move us along and our joints don't protest too loudly. Of all the life-long habits we've embraced, this is one we cherish the most.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Another 34?

We just celebrated our 34th wedding anniversary; an impressive achievement in this day and age when it's more common to see people married two or three times than staying more than twenty years with the same partner. At any rate – as I always do when crossing major time thresholds – I was looking over the horizon at the next 34 years and wondering if together, we'll make it unscathed. I called my “possibility forecaster,” explained the scope of the challenge and without hesitating much, that guy who knows me so well and is on top of almost everything, didn't waste time and snapped back: "You'll make it, but this time you'll be really old, pretty boring, quite stiff and will ski like a tourist." I smiled and told my wife...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

More on deleveraging jobs and salaries

In yesterday's blog, I failed to touch on two other important elements that are drastically changing the new job market. While not quite new, they're now more terrifying than ever; they're age and computer literacy. With age comes bulging salaries that quickly become a dead weight to carry the day one's job happens to disappear. Sure, experience counts, but it often becomes too expensive for any company to afford and it's also suspect, because it's synonymous for out of touch. The executive who used to make in the $200,000 range, can easily be replaced with two young ones, energetic, filled with ideas, much more willing to work long hours and take less time off and can still afford to work for no more than $75,000 each.

The other problem is the technical divide. Sure there are folks, born before 1950, that master word processing, spreadsheets, presentations and email, but they are not able to go beyond these computer skills and are totally lost when it comes to “Web 2.0...” Those born between 1951 and 1960 are a mixed bag in their relation to technology and many of them are swimming against the technological tide, making them less desirable to an organization that must survive in a fast changing world. While we've lived with it for almost two decade, the old divide between the “tech know” and the “tech not” is more cruel and unforgiving than ever. It now spells the difference between keeping and finding a job - or not.