Saturday, October 31, 2009

Tuning so many skis is a huge job!

For the past two days, inspired by the Ford assembly line approach, I have been repairing, tuning and waxing the skis of the entire household. Seven pairs in total, for my son, daughter, wife and I. A great job too; I applied myself to conduct a thorough base repair, edge sharpening and hot wax! Granted, that's too many boards, especially when I must admit that three pairs are mine, not including my AT gear and a monoski that I have yet to use in this 21st century.

Sure, I still can justify having one pair of “rock skis” in the event snow is somewhat tardy, one pair of all-mountain skis to do everything that needs to be done and one pair of powder skis to keep up with Utah's most famous natural resource. In the future and as austerity sinks in, I might have to reduce my “stable” of boards. This would certainly be more politically correct and in line with these trying times, but it should also be said that the last time a bought a new pair of skis was in 2007 and that there is an organized sense of “rotation” in the apparent excess that seems to characterize the large ski rack that adorn my garage.

For instance what has evolved in today's rock skis is the most ancient pair I own, one that was placed in service back in 2004, which will be a decade ago in less than five years. As time goes by, each one of my skis will eventually be demoted to that level including my big, wide powder boards. This said, I don't feel too guilty about my large inventory of “sticks” and can assure you that with almost all of its spots already used up, there's no more room in the rack for new equipment!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Which generation should we blame?

These days, there's a lot of blame to go around. We blame the banking system, the greedy realtors, Cheney and Bush for starting the war in Iraq and the Republican party for being such a bunch of obstructionists, but shouldn't some of us be shouldering a portion of that blame too? Again, instead of looking at one country in particular and pinpointing today as the moment, let's look at the current crisis globally, from a generational point of view and re-frame the question in asking which generation bears the most responsibility for the mess our world is in today.

Are our ancestors who witnessed the industrial revolution the most to blame or is it that generation that sat on the brink of the Great Depression? I'd personally give these groups a big break; they were trailblazers who didn't know any better. The post-World War II generation? Nope, they were under a tremendous pressure to forget and rebuild...

To be perfectly frank, I believe the baby boomer generation is the biggest accessory to the crime that has been perpetrated against Mother Earth. We fought for sexual freedom and for not going to war, leaving that duty to a professional army, we fought for our rights but in the process, often forgot that we had responsibilities, but we totally missed the issue of overpopulation, the number one cause to all of our planetary ills, the fossil energy depletion we've been stubbornly aggravating even though we were well aware of it back in the early 70's and finally, we've been living well over our means for the past fifty years.

I'm not speaking for the Kingdom of Bhutan, but for the United States, Canada, Western Europe and Japan. We've been burning the furniture in order to keep warm and most of our protests have been both convenient and hip. Today, we clamor for grass-fed beef. Shame on us...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Local elections, difficult choices

Tuesday afternoon, we attended the last municipal election forum that took place on the heels of the Park City Chamber's board meeting. We had a chance to see the two candidates for mayor and the the four individuals vying for the two available seats on city council. While the mayor wannabes are known entities, the four other were not and we were curious to see who really stood behind the names. Their statements and their answers were enough to put us at ease and we agreed that one of them, John Stafsholt, was well prepared and sounded by far the best, while Alex Butwinski was not as convincing, but somehow squeaked by. Both Mark Blue and Cindy Matsumoto sounded as they were just generating “white noise” and appeared to have no real idea where they were going. As for the mayor, we'll stick with Brad Olch, the underdog but the best choice for the trying times that are in store for our city. All this to say that local elections are probably the most difficult ones to assess well and it's always essential to make the effort and go see the candidates in person into to understand who is best equipped to carry out the job.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My sure way to fight sleeplessness

Like most mature adults, I hardly ever sleep a full night without waking up one, two or even more times. Sometimes, I have difficulties getting back to sleep, and when that happens I use my nearly foolproof method; no pills, no magic brew, nothing harmless to my body. Just a great method, but the explanation is a bit long, so listen up.

I used to travel an awful lot, first all over America and to Europe; later on, this became Asia, Europe and America. Since most of my travels were in economy class, repeated jet-lag and sleep deprivation took a severe toll on me. After about ten years of that, I developed a system to effectively fight the nastiness of time change, that I still use these days, but that would warrant a full story. I also became extremely effective at finding four vacant seats on the center row of the typical wide body plane, to stretch myself and get several hours of comfortable sleep.

Over the decades, these four empty seats became my sole focal point, my obsession each time I boarded a transoceanic flight. As a result, these days, when I can't seem to be able to fall asleep, I visualize this same seating arrangement, those last four vacant seats waiting for me to narrowly extend my body over them, just like on a providential bed, I imagine the muffled, powerful roar of the jet engines, thank God for having reserved this special spot just for me and without fail, succumb to a deep slumber.

Try it and if doesn't quite work the first time, keep at it, use more of your imagination and you'll eventually find a soothing rest; good luck!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

When an overall view is needed

If the United States were a small business, and if its budget were broken into different sub-categories for each one of the business divisions, at any one time, its CEO would look at the performance of each division, its interaction with the whole and its performance for the good of the company. In a successful business, all these “moving parts” would be honestly examined in terms of their respective short term and long term contributions as well as prospects.

The infrastructure, namely the equivalent of our entitlements, say social security and medicare, would be priority number two because they're so big and as they likely to grow the most in the foreseeable future; as a result, their move should be constantly anticipated and addressed. The economy of course should always be seen as the vital sales budget that decides what, if anything, can be spent or invested, so it would get all the attention it deserves before anything else. If wars could be compared to safety systems and procedures, they would have to make sense in order to command top priority and high expenditures, but would never become black holes in which resources are thrown into just because we blindly believe what some generals want as they're prompted by the likes of Boeing and Lockheed-Martin.

The financial community should be the backbone of our budgetary issues, nothing more, nothing less, and should be well reined-in to avoid to turn into the recent era of laissez-faire and its subsequent recent collapse. Bottom line, good governance should be like managing a business. When one looks at congress or even the White House, we are still light years away from that ideal situation...

Monday, October 26, 2009

The difference between Didier Cuche and me...

For those who don't know, Mr. Cuche is a formidable Swiss skier who just won the first ski world cup of the season, yesterday in Soelden, Austria. If you saw him and me together, you would agree that we have a lot in common. Without my beret and without his helmet, we both have a big head that is almost perfectly bold. Granted, his eyes are blue while mine are hazel. We look like a pair a fun guys you'd want to have a couple of beer with, and we both can speak pretty good French; sure, we all can squeak by in German and Italian and our English is a work in progress.

This said, Didier is a much better skier than I am and although I put that on the account that he's much bigger, it's true that I have yet to win the opening GS in Soelden. He's paid to ski on Head, I still buy my Dynastar and Scott skis and I can't twirl my skis as well as he does when I step out of them; however, the obvious place where I have a distinct advantage is that I'm almost twice his age, but I won't brag about it. In terms of special skills he's almost as good at carving meat with a cleaver than sheer ice with his skis; he was trained as a butcher and me as a watchmaker (I still can't make good times, even at training,) but aside from these trivial details, there's almost no difference between the two of us...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Honey, another form of health insurance?

Typically, Americans labor hard to avoiding paying taxes, spending time fearing their god and swallowing heaps of vitamin pills. Since we're naturalized, we act a bit differently on some of these counts and specifically, don't take any vitamin supplements. It's probably because we believe that if we eat balanced meals and prefer natural foods to processed ones, we don't need to compensate. This doesn't prevent us however from suffering of allergies and that's the only time we might be looking for some outside help.

One of my very best friends, Denys Trombert, who lives in France and is a beekeeper himself, has recommended that we followed his habit of ingesting one teaspoon of honey everyday to fight allergies as long as the honey came from plants and flowers that grow in the area where we live. My personal research shows that there's debate as to whether honey is that effective against allergies; however, a recent study has shown pollen collected by bees will exert some anti allergenic effect. There are also many other medicinal virtues attributed to that golden delicacy; for at least 2700 years, it's been used by humans to treat a variety of ailments through topical application.

Honey, which contains two invert sugars, offers also many benefits as a food substance; while cane-sugar and starches must undergo a process of inversion during digestion, honey doesn't because it's been predigested by the bees, inverted and concentrated. This saves our stomach some additional labor. There are many other properties that sound good about this particular food, and I'll save mine for last; since the state of Utah is nicknamed “the Beehive State,” the least we can do is eat a daily dose of honey...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The small price of being “green”

I must say that we do our very best to be as green as possible. We sure don't wear it on our sleeves and don't tell the world about it, but for the past six or seven years, we've been acting as responsible earthlings. First, when we move into our current small house, my wife convinced me not to install an automatic sprinkler system for the lawn and the plants, something everyone does in this high-desert climate. The bottom line is that we save big on watering, our lawn develops a much stronger root system and while it turns yellow in August, when October comes around, it rebounds back to be as green as our next door neighbors who all pour rivers of water on their grass. Ever since recycling became available to us, we've been doing it all along and going all the way into incorporating its functionality into the design of our new kitchen.

Then, we started composting religiously and instead of bagging our huge quantity of tree leaves before dumping them, we compost them all. That's what we've been doing for the past couple of days. We started with about 60 cubic feet of leaves, mulched them all and ended up with only 15; it's a lot of work, but it keeps us fit! I've already mentioned in this blog that we are totally committed to our organic veggie garden that we'll expand and improve again next year. We may be getting older, but we've never been as green as we are today!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Brother, can you spare a few chairlifts?

Tamarack is a brand new ski resort, near Boise Idaho, on the verge of going away. The resort, built around 2005, is small with 1,100 skiable acres, a base elevation of 4,900' reaching to 7,700' and counts 7 lifts. It's located more than 3 hours from Boise airport or just 35 minute from the nearby, tiny Mc Call airstrip. The brainchild of Jean-Pierre Boespflug, a French native, who controls just over 50 percent of its interests, the resort is today bankrupt and has ceased operations since March of this year.

Crédit Suisse is holding $300 millions in debt and doesn't like to hear that a group of second-homeowners are intent to secure a $7.9 million loan to continue “skeletal operations” this winter and prevent creditors from dismantling and selling the resort's chairlifts. The issue has been brought to court this past Monday , but the judge declared that there is not much a court can do to counteract the effects of the economic downturn, the state of neglect of the project and its difficult access. With mountain real-estate values still tanking, there is little chance these rich homeowners can prevail and would be better off funding their survival themselves.

Now, who can lend me some tools so I can start taking these seven lifts apart before winter?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Blessed are the generalists

In a world that is so fractured, it is often difficult to be able to have and maintain a “30,000 feet view.” We all tend to be absorbed by the immediacy of the action and the louder or brighter details. We also have difficulties integrating a variety of events and grasping how all of them relate to each other. In short, we always end up gravitating towards viewing, analyzing and judging the isolated occurrence and the specialized knowledge. The younger we are, the more likely we are to fall into that trap as we are infatuated by what we like best and it's only when we grow older and these personal passions subside that we accept to see a bit farther and begin to connect the dots. This universal interconnection makes it soon impossible to see self-standing events and soon we grow into the generalists we need to be, in spite of the way our media chops up its news, its findings and its conclusions...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ski vacations: A last minute deal

For months, I've predicted that this winter season would be a challenging one. This past Monday, the Mountain Travel Research Program (MTRiP) that represents 216 property management companies in 15 Colorado, Utah, California, and British Columbia resorts, released an eye-opening survey. While September business in mountain destinations improved from August it continued the recent pattern of low volume and less strength compared to last year with September ’09 occupancy down 14.2 percent. September lodging rates were also down 5.7 percent from September ’08. Looking forward, reservations taken in September for arrivals in September-February were down 11.9 percent compared to the previous year at this time -- a reversal of the positive August pacing that was up 2.1 percent.

The MTRiP report further indicates that decreased lodging rates continue to be offered as an incentive for consumers with discounts ranging from 6.6 percent to 18.4 percent, with the deepest discounts available after the holidays. Overall, rates for the next six months are down 14.2 percent from 2008-09. As MTRiP's chief Garrison said, “mountain destinations will have to either deliver more value or less cost while factoring in the timing of reservations...”

What all this means is that ski resorts will have to start to innovate their product offering, such as interconnecting lifts with common lift ticket where they can, real estate values will have to drop considerably and with snow vacations becoming such a buyer's market, lodging prices and lift tickets (one of the only “elastic” areas) will have to drop much further to make up for airlines add-on fees and avoid becoming a last-minute business in which planning becomes impossible for staffing and other critical needs.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ah, the good old days!

Everyone is likely to use that expression at one point or another. Are we all nostalgic about the past? Was life easier, were there less problems? There's probably some truth to some of this thinking; what's obvious however is that life was much simpler. Less things to do, to remember, less gizmos to enslave us and with it, much less expectations. The more we complicate our lives, the harder it is to manage and the more likely we'll experience, breakdowns, failures and disappointments. I believe we all know this, but how do we disentangle ourselves from that web of dependencies and still experience a satisfying life?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Reforming my life

Sometime, when domestic discussions go south, I'm told that I've been a slacker ever since I retired. Well, to me this sounds as if I had been... retired, right? This said, I need to incorporate some education and training into my life, something I can absorb a little bit at a time and that will require a daily regimen; just like say, the one I have with my daily run or writing this blog. The more I think I need to do it, the closer I'm finding myself to making a move. Call it my 2009 new year's resolution. Never too late, right?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Salads not "made in China"

A couple of days ago, we still ate a few leaves of arugula for lunch that I picked from our little veggie garden. It's over now and since the beginning of October, our daily servings of salad that graced our lunches and dinners for the last three months have come to a seasonal end. In a world where most everything is made in China, if not in Mexico, Vietnam or the Dominican Republic, having something homegrown, with good compost, continued attention, clean water and warm sun is simply priceless. This was our first season of high-altitude gardening and it won't be the last. Next year, we're already thinking of increasing its area a bit, adding some rows of stone like peasants do in Bolivia to retain some of the day heat well into our cool night and do a much better job managing both planting and harvesting, while enjoying the by-product of our new-found hobby even more; bountiful, delectable and truly made in Park City!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

(Almost) bodiless skiing

If you want to ski well, forget about most of your entire body. That's right, cut all that superfluous matter located just below your eyes and a tiny bit above your ankles, then you'll see your ski life taking off like a rocket. Some purists might say “of course, by doing this you're lowering so much your center of gravity that there's no longer the possibility of taking a spill!” I'd say very good observation, but that's not quite what I meant.

My point was that the less you do with your chin, your neck, your arms, your trunk, hips and thighs, the better off you'll do on a pair of skis, so forget all about that extraneous “stuff,” shorten the communication path between your brain and the sole of your feet to speed up the flow of information where it really counts. And the poles? I forgot about those; probably overrated too! If you want to argue this assertion or don't understand the idea, just post a comment.

Friday, October 16, 2009

First trip in my private jet

I had recently mentioned my new subscription to NetJets. Well, a few days ago we left for our first trip. The original idea was to fly from Heber airport (20 miles away from Park City) all the way to Bora-Bora, in Polynesia, and the plan was to stay 4 days and then return; a quick luxury jaunt. With the economic crisis currently affecting tourism in that part of the word, we had found some really cheap condos and invited six friends and neighbors that I had coerced into coming on the basis of splitting the fuel cost and the accommodations. We had reserved the Gulfstream 550 that would take us there in one elegant and comfy swoop and leave the eight of us six seats to spare...

Things started to take a nasty turn when on my way to Heber City, I received that call telling me that instead of the Gulfstream we'd get a much smaller Hawker 4000 that would just sit all of us and no one more, but forced a stopover in Honolulu, something that would be ruining a seamless, romantic trip like that one. Good thing that the plane arrived and took off right on time plus that its captain sounded like a decent fellow. Three hours into the flight, we were told that we might have a mechanical problem and that the most prudent course of action would be to fly back to San Diego. We turn around and finally landed and waited for almost one hour on the runway waiting for a decision as to what needed to be done.

Finally we were told that a special part was needed, that it was dispatched asap to us, but that we would have to overnight in California. Since this was an unforeseen event not included in the “package,” I had to scramble to find accommodations for all of us and that did not appear to be the right time to make the round asking for a donation; since I was the M.C., everyone expected me to pay for the hotel! I was mad and started to realize that there would be very little time left out of our four day stay by the time we'd take off and make the two extra stop overs. I seriously entertained the idea of canceling the whole excursion. One problem was that the six other couple had paid for their share of the condo. We had to wait till noon and finally we were set to go, flew to Honolulu, had to refuel and sit there almost two hours before we could in the air again.

When we got to Bora Bora, we were all beat up, confused (it was already the day-after tomorrow) and by the time we checked in it was almost time to leave. The views left a lot to be desired, the lodging wasn't as good as the internet had told me and it rained furiously the whole three days we spent there. Before boarding the plane, I already knew that my friends and neighbors would never talk to me again, even though I paid more than $600 for their San Diego hotel, and I promised myself to get out of that stupid private jet contract as soon as I'd get home and go back to flying economy!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

My take on Afghanistan

What we're trying to achieve in Afghanistan keeps on puzzling me, probably because no one knows it including our own government. Unlike Iraq, we went into that country with perhaps some good reasons, a bit like we takes an aspirin against a terrible headache without even thinking of what might have caused it; in other words, we were so preoccupied by alleviating the symptom that we never really looked at the root cause of the problem. That real reason, in my opinion, always was the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and any problem that we keep having with the Muslim world at large will continue to find its root in that unsolved situation.

Now, we're trying to win the hearts and minds of the Afghans who could care less and only want to grow their poppy and sell its by-product to the Taliban via the Russian Mafia or some other organized crime, so money keeps flowing to fuel the conflict. Deep inside, the Afghan people wish we go away and don't want westerners to meddle in their internal affairs, their culture and the way they treat their women. Afghanistan is a lost cause, it is a drain to our treasury and a killing field for our young people. A courageous leader should not stand that situation.

A solution? Unless Bush and Cheney were capable and willing to fix what they created in that country through their criminal neglect, I can only see one: Simply put Karzai on notice and give him some iron-clad governance objectives. If these are not attained within 12 to 18 months, we're out of there; just mark my words, if we take this approach, we will! Crystal clear, simple and economical.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The crisis and child labor

The lingering economic crisis has forced us to drastically rethink the way we live – I should say, survive. For instance, we've never been too crazy about child labor and while we were parents, hardly resorted to a practice that many find objectionable. It's true that in those days the economy wasn't so bad and we didn't have to go through a “great recession” like this one. As tough times call for tough actions, we had to modify our views and accept the fact that our grandson Finn would somehow contribute to a dire economic reality. That's right, we suggested to his parents that the little one should pitch in and take a small job. It was not an easy sell, but we finally convinced everyone that a job is a job and is preferable to idleness, naps and snacks. So Finn got that part-time job as a produce handler at PED (Pumpkin Express Delivery) a position he now appears to fully wrap his arms around and enjoy. The hours are good, it's outdoors and pretty safe, the pay could be better but every dollar helps!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

An interview with my grandson

My grandson Finn is a busy little man who seldom grants any interview. Since I have some special connections with him, I was able yesterday to steal a few moments out of his otherwise very busy schedule...

: So Finn, how's been your year so far?
Finn: I'd say quite hectic; between school, sleep and meals, I'm left with very little free time.
Go11: I understand, we all live crazy lives...
Finn: It's not so much that, but no one asks me for my opinion; I'm taken to bed on a moment's notice, told when it's time to eat, “they” even took me all the way to France this summer without my asking!
Go11: Would you call that a breach of your civil liberties?
Finn: In a sense I would, if it were not for the good food I ate there and seeing my other grandparents. The plane ride was particularly awful, it drove my parents nuts.
Go11: What are you plans for this coming fall and winter?
Finn: I'm going to get potty trained (another weird idea from my parents) and I plan to add a few cool words to my vocabulary, but haven't zeroed-in on any in particular. I guess I'll decide before Halloween. I also plan to quit napping in the morning.
Go11: Do you have any special wish that you'd share with your grandpa?
Finn: Yeah, I'd need an iPhone for Christmas...

Monday, October 12, 2009

What, me, procrastinate?

Recently, I have caught myself procrastinating on a few tasks that I needed to do. None of them was so complex that they would have justified so much postponement, but I drug my feet nonetheless and it's been excruciating to get them done. Without delving too much into the matter, it would seem to me that I was stressing myself too much for what needed to be done as if I was mentally drained and as if the items represented matters of extreme importance.

In digging further into the matter, I found that according to “It's About Time” a book by Dr. Linda Sapadin, there are six type of procrastinations (the perfectionist, the crisis-maker, the dreamer, the defier, the worrier and the overdoer;) I might fall in the first and last of this half-dozen categories, but enough said on that subject, I need to go back to work and must tackle my ever-growing to-do list!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ribbon, skiing and mountain biking

When I still was a kid and couldn't always afford a lift ticket, I had concocted, back in my native Haute-Savoie, a nasty downhill course starting high into the woods and meandering down into a wide open meadow below. I had named it “speed ribbon.” I would tuck it down, dodge the trees as well as they'd let me and after an impressive hockey stop at the bottom, I felt quite proud of myself. Since that time, I've always seen skiing as that unfolding ribbon; that's right, smooth, well rounded, with no crease or kink of any kind. You could call it perfect smoothness or doing as little as humanly possible while gliding.

This has become my approach whenever I ski or I ride down my mountain bike these days. I visualize that rolling ribbon and stay with it; it goes where I need it to go, slows me down by hugging up the hill as a half-pipe would make you do, but always economizing speed, momentum and steering. I was thinking about it yesterday as I was on my bike flying down a single track, a bit too well defined and limited for my taste, but reminding me that the ski season is just around the corner...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Free ski gear

It's been quite a long time since I have to pay for my ski gear; to be precise, since 1995. Before that, I enjoyed of course that pretty cool status of ski-insider who could get pretty much what he wanted for... free! This benefit came with many strings attached; for one thing you couldn't ski in anything you would have liked. You needed to follow the unwritten rules of competition; namely, if you worked for Lange it was hard to slip your foot into a Salomon and so forth.

Today, I buy my equipment and my ski clothes and I find this to be a lot healthier. I don't owe anything to anyone and can pick what I'm convinced will work best for me. Sure, it's a bit pricier, but it doesn't have to suffer from gaping compromises. In the final analysis, I only have to use products I believe in and that work best for me.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Weaving Afghanistan into health care reform

I had planned to write this before I could even imagine that President Obama would win this year's Nobel Peace Prize, so I will go on with my idea. Before I start, let me just state that I think the recipient is exceptional and certainly deserves the recognition as well as many others who have won the prize before him. Now that he is endowed with such a stunning award, how will he deal with Afghanistan?

First, I'm of the opinion that we, the United States, have no business in still occupying that country. Bush and Cheney did a terrible job after they invaded it, in the hope of kicking al Qaeda out, and today we're left with the results of their incompetence. Now, should we withdraw or stay? No matter which angle you look at, we're confronted with an impossible dilemma; damned if we do and damned if we don't. I don't believe that adding some 40,000 troops will help much as long as Karzai and his cronies stay in power and unless we make their corrupt government accountable for some momentous progress, we should definitely walk away. This said, the Republican love to scare Americans into war, that's the only thing they know.

Wouldn't it be the right moment for Obama to “trade horses” and tell the conservative “you support my health-care reform and we stay in Afghanistan, you don't, and we walk away...” I see nothing wrong with that and since the Afghan choice is so murky, why not leverage it to the hilt. I hope the president has the imagination and the guts to follow this highly political approach and, by doing so, constructively contribute some of his newly acquired capital ...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The epitome of organization

Thanks mostly to modern technology and cheap computer power, there's a lot that can be done in terms of organization, bit by bit and day by day. That way it's possible to keep, sort, and warehouse all kind of important information and, if well done, this eventually amounts to significant time savings. Whether it's about gathering information, building systems, organizing photos, videos or writing a story, technology has made possible to save everything from the lowly little note we sometime write to ourselves all the way to some massive or complex information that comes handy the day we need it.

It all take some organization, a definite system – even if it's a crude one – and daily dedication to be able to enjoy the productive benefits of that approach. With computers, there's no need for posted notes plastering every wall or pieces of paper sitting all over a desk or spread into every corner of an entire home. It's all there in one box, and the good news is that if you were to forget where you placed it, there's always the possibility to search it electronically. Oh yes, don't forget to regularly back up that precious data!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Being right vs. doing right

This difference may appear ambiguous but bears a huge importance in the way we lead our lives. That's right, there's always a huge temptation in doing things so we can demonstrate how right we were about certain issues or ideas. This produces a short-lived satisfaction but can also cost a lot in terms of how it is received by other people. Over the years, I've come to realize that making a point or settling a score is often very costly and brings so much destruction along with it, that it ends up not being worth the adrenaline rush and self-satisfaction that it briefly generates. When we think about it, we often are the best judges to tell ourselves if we are right or not; little good common sense is just what we need to be able to sense it – or not!

In contrast, doing the right thing consists of following a path that is most likely to rounding a lot of edges and making everyone standing along reasonably happy. Nothing sticks out to arise bad vibes, resentment or jealousy. Doing what's right instead of just proving a point always ends up being a much more efficient way to navigate life. It never quite satisfy what we'd like to register on our little personal dashboard, but it keeps up moving along in the right direction and keep us on track to reaching our most important goals. If you don't already adhere to that approach, keep it in mind and try it next time!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Let me tell you...

Recently, I was made aware that, when I speak French, I appear to overuse a certain expression that is offensive to the individual who notified me; it goes like this “Je te signale” and it means something very close to “let me tell you.” Apparently, that set of words, when I use it comes across as being very patronizing and demeaning. I beg to differ, but there are instances in which perception overrides reality. I also know that it's not so much what we say, but how we say it that counts and I promised that person that I would watch my language whenever we're together. Do you suffer from similar chronic expressions that could potentially be controversial and has anyone made you aware of them?

Toni Sailer's funerals

Some have asked me what triggered that fixation of mine for flying private jets; I've said it before, it was out of frustration with crowded planes, continual delays, poor service and add-on luggage fees! These were the elements that turned the whole idea into reality, but the inspiration came when a group of Parkites traveled by plane, non-stop, from Salt Lake City to Salzburg in Austria to attend Toni Sailer's funerals at the end of August. These big ski industry personalities who live in town had chartered a corporate jet to accomplish the non-stop journey and, as they couldn't quite fill all 14 seats, began to sell the vacant space until the very last minute.

The starting price was huge but I waited long enough to get the next-to last seat for less than $500 while the first ones - I was told - went for more than $7,500! We left on Thursday, August 27 around 3 pm and landed in Austria the following day, just before noon. The group leaders had also chartered a small bus that took us to Kitzbuehel, 45 miles away, where everything took place. The funeral was on Saturday, August 29, and the weather was just terrible; it rained the whole time. There was a huge crowd attending with many personalities like Franz Klammer, Hermann Maier, Rosi Mittermaier and even Franz Beckenbauer the soccer champion. I stayed in town at a former Lange rep's place and we left early on Sunday back to Park City. I thought the trip in private jet was very cool.

Monday, October 5, 2009

On Skype with Jesus...

Remember when I told you that I had got Jesus' Skype address? Well this morning, after countless attempts, I was finally able to connect with the man. What follow is our first – albeit short – conversation. Remember, there was no webcam, it was just audio...Jesus: Who is it?
Go11: It's me, Go Eleven!
Jesus: No idea who you are; what do you want?
Go11: Just wanted to say hi and be able to tell my friends that I had you on the phone...
Jesus: That's sounds really vain.
Go11: I know, but I'll keep it quiet, I'll just use this interview for my blog and I'll post the thing on Facebook. I just want all of my friends to know that I have connections in high places and that way I might get more respect.
Jesus: Okay, what do want to talk about?
Go11: I guess the economy and my investments. You see, I wonder when it's a good time to get back into the market?
Jesus: I have no idea; I'm probably like you, I'm liquid at the moment.
Go11: I know it's hard, but do you think it will be a “V” or a “U” kind of a recovery?
Jesus: I already told you, I really don't know. St Peters says it's gonna be a “W” one, but when I asked my mom who seems to know everything and ends up being always right, she said, I wish it'd be a “J” one like in Jesus, but she fears it's gonna be a “L” one as in Lucifer...

Just at this moment, the sound faded and we had been disconnected. Skype still has a long technical way to go...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

My new toy...

This new fuss of mine has grown out of discontent with commercial airlines and security procedures. Okay, it's not exactly “mine,” it's a timeshare aircraft, but perhaps the most cost-effective transportation solution when a guy like me needs to fly no more than 50 hours per year. It's ideal, because I love to fly on short notice, sometime during peak periods and want to go to very specific places. The program is known as the Marquis Jet Card and it's from NetJets. The card sold as a prepaid lease offering 25 hours of occupied flight time, gives me access to NetJets world-class fleet without the commitment and headaches of ownership. I know, it's pricey; a single year, 25-hour pre-paid lease starts at $132,900 in a Citation V Ultra not counting additional charges for Federal Excise Tax, fuel surcharge fee and insurance, but it should be fun. I will however need a Gulfstream 550/GV that might cost significantly more to take me non-stop to Nice, Tahiti as well as Argentina and Chile for summer skiing. Soon, I'll take you in one of my NetJets trips; oh yes, someone has already asked me what this would do to my carbon footprint and since I didn't quite get it, I answered there shouldn't be a large impact, I already wear a 11 ½ street shoe size!

Some good retirement rules

To make retirement a great time in one's life, a couple of ingredients need to be mixed together well. Things like health, quality of life and resources are the first that come to mind and if managed properly can make a huge difference in what could be called the third leg of one's journey. Since health is both manageable and unpredictable, let's talk about what we can control it; staying in shape, eating well and not taking unnecessary risks. This latter element wasn't much part of my modus operandi until I broke 3 ribs and tore my Achilles tendon while skiing. Now, I've learned the hard way and I know a little bit better. The quality of life aspect is quite simple; it's living in a pleasant place, looking at the positive side of things, having pleasant relationships and making the very best of every day by not worrying unnecessarily. Finally the resource part is a bit trickier to manage well. Many of us have tight financial situations and need to live simply in order to make their savings last.

Those who are extremely well-off can look at things differently and consider living more “largely” and enjoying many pleasures self-denied while raising a family and building up careers. All can of course worry about making money last with the challenge of never knowing when the end will come. So what is a sane person to do with that quandary? The answer is I believe, make with what's available, be creative with entertainment, do the fun and more expensive stuff while one is still mobile and alert enough, take a job if necessary and always remember that the best things in life are... free!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Ski Magazine resorts rankings

When I perused the October issue of Ski, I already knew that Deer Valley had once more clinched the number one position and that Park City had moved up to number four. Since both are our local resorts, I can't help but think that this publicity should have a positive impact on our local economy. This said, I scratch my head when I see that The Canyons is ranked number four in access, in spite of being significantly easier to get to (from Salt Lake airport) than either Deer Valley or Park City. I also smile when I see that Deer Valley remains on top in spite of discriminating snowboarders and forcing families that would prefer to ski and ride to split company during their stay; that is silly.

I certainly see what Ski Magazine is trying to do, but the exercise is awkward and doesn't reflect the way folks recreate in this day and age. Let me clarify my point; most visitors to Park City sample several of the local resorts during their stay; one or two days in Park City and Deer Valley as well as The Canyons. Same story in Aspen: One day Ajax, another Highlands and perhaps a couple at Snowmass. If I were to stay in the Vail Valley, I'd split my turns between Beaver Creek and Vail, and I'm not even talking about Breck and Keystone or the entire shore of Lake Tahoe. All this to say that it would make much more sense for Ski to look at a given locale, like Park City, Lake Tahoe or Summit County, Aspen or the Vail Valley and look at their various lift companies as amenities available to the vacationer as this happens in the real world. The survey would make good practical sense, gain a lot in credibility and would help stimulate some long needed improvements in the way American consume snow sports. For example, the three Park City mountains might finally come to their senses and interconnect, Summit County would offer a common pass including Copper. Winter Park, Solneve and Loveland could join forces, Lake Tahoe could do something significantly more convenient for its clientele.

Sure, it would make it hard for resorts like Telluride, Big Sky or Steamboat to stand-up, but that's the way life goes! It's time for Ski Magazine to finally realize that things are changing; at least they have in Europe for the past 40 years and America is still frozen into a glacial past. I think it's time to get globally warmed up and inspired, and by the way the magazine should change its name to something more inclusive like “Snow Sports” or something similar...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

First snow of the season

It was announced ahead of time and after much overnight wind and heavy rain, yesterday ended up being our first snowy day of the season. I wasn't happy as this would force me to cover our salads, garage our flowers and put mountain biking on hold for a few days, especially as another snow storm is in store for this coming Sunday and Monday. Many folks get all excited with an early dump as they feel that the ski season is just around the corner.

There's a lot of anticipation built into the snow culture; I know a lot of skiers who don't think twice before ruining their equipment when on thin, rocky snow and sketchy conditions; yet, when the end of March comes around these same people are done and are already turning to golfing, boating or gardening. I'm a slow starter; I'm of the opinion that we can do just fine without a trace of snow until November 15 and I never get too excited until January, but when I do, my dedication to skiing will last through May!