Saturday, July 31, 2010

An afternoon at the beach...

I'm really not a beach guy, but I do enjoy some of the beaches that can be found north of the city of San Francisco. Yesterday, we drove to Stinson Beach and in addition to the long and winding scenic drive, we were blessed with clear weather and really enjoyed the excursion. The surroundings are beautiful, the buildings are simple, the atmosphere unpretentious and downright funky. The place is the mountain equivalent of Sundance Resort in Utah. It's a bit hard to get to, but is sparsely developed and, mostly because of it, simply beautiful. The same could be said about Corsica and these days, places like these are increasingly hard to come by.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Lake Tahoe, 35 years later

The first time I discovered Lake Tahoe was in April 1975, when my good friend Denys Liboz worked as a technician on the US Ski Team for Look bindings. There still was lots of snow, over 7 feet deep it seems and we skied Heavenly and Mt Rose at that time. I fell in love with the place; its unique scenery and its imposing trees. Since that time, I've returned to that place around a douzen times, and on each occasion I always fall through its charm.

This certainly is a part of the world where I could have lived and be quite happy with its great climate, good skiing and excellent location near Reno and not too far from San Francisco. It evidently didn't happen and I don't regret it, but I still take pleasure in being around that special place and enjoy every single minute I am in its environment...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

These obnoxious (French) tourists!

After a long 9 hours drive we arrived last night Lake Tahoe's Nevada side. Luckily we had reserved a great hotel by the shore and immediately after checking-in, went to the beach; there, we sat at a small restaurant patio for a beer and to see what was for dinner. The location was wonderful and from the lake's south shore we watched the sun go down over the Sierra, observed folks on the beach and relaxed while we were having dinner. At a table next two us, two French couples arrived for dinner; one of the two guys loudly capitalized the conversation around that table; he evidently had done it all, seen everything and held an opinion on the entire world.
He had no idea that we could hear and understand every word coming out of his mouth and we were in that priviledged position in which you are part of conversation without having to enter it. A form of auditive voyeurism, if there could be such a thing... This was a bit embarassing too, being also French to hear this countryman of ours make a fool of himself and comment wildly on our American life. Once more, this odd situation reminded me of a famous quote by Alfred Capus, that goes about like this: “the kind man listens smiling about things he knows, told by someone who ignore them..”

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

We can't afford Afghanistan...

I have suggested the idea for a long time, but the combined sport of war, nation building and game of influence seems now over for the United States. With two major concerns like funding retirement and health care for its aging baby-boomers, our nation can't no longer afford maintaining its presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. Defense should revert to being purely defensive and good intelligence and special commandos should focus on thwarting terrorist attacks, unless of course,
we finally decide to be serious with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and really push to get it resolved. Colonial wars is no longer an affordable option for the United States of America.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The sanctity of time...

We hear mostly about the sanctity of life and I must say that while I'm neither in favor of trivial abortion or any form of capital punishment, I've been guilty, through my already long life of squandering my precious time.
Yet, as I have heard one song say, “time is all we've got” and this is so true; young or old, rich or poor, winner or loser, all these stages in life make no difference as time elapses exactly the same for all.

I love to say, the more we advance in the game of life, the least amount of time is left and therefore whatever is left becomes increasingly precious. As an early riser and someone who is hardly ever late at my appointments, I feel that I contribute to elevating the notion of time where it belong. I was also wondering if there was a patron saint of time but couldn't find one; this says probably a lot about the progress needed to make time worshiping another worthwhile endeavor...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Another Tour de France...

This is the first time we've really watched the Tour de France with any intensity and regularity. Except perhaps for some skiing and Olympic events, we're not watching much sports on TV, but this year, we felt the spectacle was well worth it and for the first time in my life, I began to comprehend how this unique sport saga really works. Until now, I have failed to grasp most of the intricacies involving racing strategies, tactics and probably never will understand them as I should, but I'm not as ignorant about that big race as I was until a few weeks ago.

It just took me six decade to catch up! Regardless of the color of their jerseys, we admired the two-hundred athletes' strength, stamina, slim bodies and concluded that cycling was a real sport, more like a marathon, but repeated almost on a daily basis for a three-week period. We've become fans!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Optimism and its shadow...

As a self-proclaimed “optimist,” I always leave a bit of room for some healthy doubt and some protective fear. I'm no Pollyanna, and always practice a form of devil advocacy that's always on call - and reasonably well awake - to run before my mind's eye a “worst case scenario” in most of my pivotal endeavors. I don't obsess about this balancing practice, but it remains active in the background. It enables me to take corrective actions, anticipate bad developments and always be ready if anything falls apart. Most folks might call it a good dose of realism, yet my driving motivation remains the optimism that lights my road and fuels my resolve.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Jupiter's snow patch

When I grew up in the French Alps, I would watch when the last snowfield left on la Pointe de Vorlaz would vanish in summer. Ever since we've lived in Park City, I've always observed the same snow-melt routine on Jupiter Peak, which at 9,998 feet, towers over our little community. I remember June 16, 1985, when I first took a tour of the house we were about to buy and had, for the occasion, rented a camcorder to show a VHS video to my wife who had stayed in New-York.
There was a bull-eye window in the house, and through it, I framed Jupiter Peak with a tiny snow speck left just below the summit. I've since noted how soon or how late snow would vanish from that mountain top and have stats to substantiate it. Generally as soon as the snow patch melts, summer enters in full force. Over the 25 years we've been in Utah, I've seen the date where the last trace of snow goes oscillate from June 18 to August 27. This year it was on July 16. That may sound quite trivial, but these details are important to me...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Different speeds for different folks

We all tend to go through life at different rate of speed and in so doing, often expect others to mirror our own velocity. Think about it this way; if you go strolling with someone, it's a lot easier to enjoy the experience if both individuals are moving at the same pace.

If one goes too fast, the other tires quickly and vice-versa. In business and in life we tend to expect that our partners respond to our demands the way we we wish it should be, namely within our exact time-frame, in the communication style we prefer and – too often – in delivering the outcome precisely as we want it. Reality of course is a far cry from that, and this lopsided set of expectations are more prevalent as we get out of the active life into a retirement mode, when we have far much more time on our hands and when our own precious priorities become all-important. Another area filled with good reasons for seeking moderation and cultivating flexibility...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The trap of cynicism

As we grow older, innocent enthusiasm begins to wane and it's often hard to be all pumped up about an upcoming event, a change in situation or a new beginning. Chances are, we've already “been there and done that” right?
This form of pragmatism while quite useful in many instances can also be a downer and often brings too much cynicism into our lives. Because of this, it's too easy to becoming and old crank and someone who sees the glass half empty. We need to be able to balance that form of somber realism with a bright outlook and make plenty of room for hope into the picture. We need that and a healthy pursuit of living demands it too. Something to keep in mind more and more as maturity sets in!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

When the good craft blooms

Last night we went to see Wynona Judd at the Deer Valley Outdoor Amphitheater, and even though I'm no country music fan, had little idea what her repertoire was all about and don't one one single Judd CD, we were impressed by her polish and great craft. Not only is she an impressive singer, but she was able to interact skillfully with the audience and made the 90 minutes she stood on stage go swiftly without one flat and dull moment. Sure, the singer appeared to us as extremely self-centered, but show me a performer without any ego! My wife loved her performance and I was impressed.

The interesting story about Wynona, is that her mom Naomi, dragged her on the stage when she was young and didn't want to do it. This goes to say that weather you are a cabinet maker, a mason, an engineer or a janitor, if you can execute your job close to perfection, put your heart into it and enhance it over a lifetime, the end result will be spectacular.
You may not have to love what you do at its inception, but you'll develop infatuation for what you do and that attachment might bloom into some special ingredient akin to passion. Maybe that's called revelation, but clearly shows that anything we do for a living can be elevated to a very special, attaching degree that we're proud to identify with...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Optimism and me...

It's quite possible that I'm the most optimist person of the family. By in large, I see the silver lining in most issues, I'm never willing to give up and ready to assume more than my share of risk and, so far – knock on wood, I've always managed to land on my feet. Was I always like this? Perhaps, but frankly, I'm not that sure. I have had moments of despair and dissatisfaction, but in truth those were probably warranted. When I came to America, I fell in love with the school of “positive thinking” and pretty much anchored my business life to that way of thinking. Then, there is my propensity for dreaming, imagining and my lust for adventures and discovery that it fed by a boundless curiosity.

While I lived in Europe, two experiences had marked my life. First, my mother was a worrier and I soon realized that worrying was a terrible waste of someone's precious time. It was stressful, never ending and in 99% of the cases was totally unwarranted. Then, when I was in high-school, my classmate Mychel Blanc proclaimed that as long as they (teachers, school principals, etc.) had not executed us by hanging, we were okay. As corny as it may sound, this pronouncement kept me going in more than one dire situation.

As expressed earlier, my fearlessness has also been a key pillar to my optimism until I started to collect a bunch of skiing accidents and began to slow down and pay more attention; yet, I'm glad to be an optimist; this trait has served me so well that I intend to work on perfecting it between today and the rest of my life!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Addicted to... flossing

Tonight as we were dining with my son, his wife and our grandson, we talked about dental care and briefly touched on flossing, which is something that has been part of my daily life for the last 24 years, but I wish I had started more than a half a century ago, but that another completely different story...

Flossing was “invented” by a New Orleans dentist back in 1815. Yet it took an inordinate amount of time to get the masses on the floss-bandwagon, mostly because of the lack of a practical, good product. Today, while nearly all American brush their teeth, only a fraction of them (we don't know for sure, perhaps between 10 and 40%) floss daily. Flossing isn't complicated, but it takes a bit of practice and patience and requires the practitioner to stick to it for a least three solid weeks before it can be anchored as a life-long habit.

While some of its advantages are pretty obvious, like removing an unsightly salad fragment and maintaining a good oral hygiene, the benefits of flossing in combination with brushing are said to prevent a bunch of bad things like gum disease, halitosis – which is bad breath - and cavities. Abiding to the daily chore is also linked to a reduced incidence of respiratory illnesses, heart disease, premature birth and can increase life expectancy. Since I've little interest in most of these ailments, the later benefit is so important to me that I plan to keep on flossing religiously for at least the next forty years!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Tao of cycling

My daily watching of the Tour de France and mountain biking season are a constant reminder of the cyclical nature of live embedded in that sport, where everything goes up and down and in which suffering alternates with elation. By its very nature, and without any pun, cycling truly is the poster child of Taoism with its uncanny way to “cycle” feelings, physical shape and experiences.

It's a great activity in which a certain mindset always plays a much larger role than we give it credit for. If you feel beat up you are, if you fear you won't make a tight turn you won't, if you try too hard everything unravels, if you don't believe, it won't happen. All these observations bring Taoism into my riding and I can only conclude with an appropriate quote from the Master:

By letting it go, it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try, the world is beyond the winning.” – Lao Tse.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A world of Band-aids...

In reviewing my past blogs, I can see that I'm obsessed with keeping the big picture (or the 30,000 feet view) in mind, at all time. Yet, I see that we're continually trying to solve the world's problems by keeping on compartmentalizing them. Last night, I was watching a TV interview of a physician with “Doctor without Borders” complaining about the composition of the United States Food Aid, distributed to kids, as being not nutritional enough and not helping as it should. While I don't disagree with that assessment, what makes me wonder is why we are stubbornly working at fixing symptoms like this one instead of – jointly and simultaneously – eradicating the root cause of the problem, which in that case, like countless others (environmental issues, flawed economic paradigm) is and remain overpopulation...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Running envy

If there's something I get a lot - a daily dose, at least five times a week - it's running; yet, wherever I can find myself and whenever I see someone running I feel and urge to join in, I'm envious, I want to run. For me running works better in the morning and there are countless occasions when I catch someone running at any other time of the day or even at night and there again, I feel almost jealous. The reason for all that greed is that running is what consumes me without my being aware of it; it's so addictive and so integrated into my life that it's as natural as breathing... In truth I probably don't get enough of it, but if I did, my body might be into pieces! Occasional ski accidents that keep me from running are horrible punishments that I fear like the plague. Running is so rich, has so much to offer that I can't imagine living without it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Park City's new-found religion

There are about 20 houses of worship in Park City, and I always wonder how they can even compete with snow sports, golfing, biking and even water skiing, but the fastest growing and most popular ones are the free weekly outdoor concerts that are held during the summer months, at Deer Valley, The Canyons and Kimball Junction. The crowds coming to these events are huge and keep on growing.
People bring their kids, their picnic, their good spirits, wine, beer and cocktails, lay on the lawn and listen to pretty good acts while chatting among friend, watching people and day-dreaming.

Each venue has its regulars and, just like in church, what a wonderful way to find renewal, unwind, listen to sounds from the stage, doze-off, watch the clouds and appreciate the goodness of life. The dress is totally casual, the attitude relaxed, old folks, teenagers and toddlers can all participate by dancing before the stage. The huge crowd generates an incredible amount of positive energy through a common appreciation for laid-back entertainment in the outdoors. Something I can believe in!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Another idea for Haiti

Back on May 14 and 15, I was voicing some suggestions about what to do to turn Haiti around. Today, as everyone is marking the 6th month anniversary of the disaster and assessing the situation, progress still seems few and far between and the main conclusions appear to be on Haiti government powerlessness and donor nations paying lip service to their pledges. This is where my new idea comes into play. I would divvy up the country between all these nations based on their economic size and early aid commitment, have each one take the lead in their assigned area, thus creating a healthy emulation among them; namely which one would clear its share of rubble faster, involved and employ the greatest number of Haitians, do it in the most sustainable and effective ways, etc.

NGOs would continue their work and ideally coordinate them better with these multinational “centers of excellence.” Every six month or so, a status report would be issued comparing the efforts, outlining ideas that work best, generating “best practices” and the rebuilding process would go on. Instead of spending national pride and capital on stupid athletic events such as the Olympics and world championships of all kinds, this would be a much more constructive way to get things moving in a country that appears to be stuck into inaction. Any comments?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rating others' happiness...

Last night as we were sitting on our stone bench, following a nice, long evening stroll, I suggested to my wife a game that consisted on rating the happiness level of people we knew. Something like giving points on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being totally happy. This was an eye-opening exercise. Sure, we were making some broad-stroke assumptions; we came up with a name, gave and compared our marks - all incredibly close - and moved on to the next...

The exercise was totally intuitive, we didn't even try to define was happiness should be; later on, during the night, I was thinking about some yardsticks like health, social life, wealth, but soon realized that the “real thing” was what went on between our two ears. This exercise opened up an exciting new subject that I intend to re-visit very soon. Isn't happiness after all the main reason while we hang on to dear life? You may wonder if we applied the test to ourselves and we sure did. Self-gratifying in fact; our own marks ended up much better than average!

Monday, July 12, 2010

For the love of the mountains...

It was heartwarming for me to watch the 8th stage of the Tour de France wind its way all the way up to Avoriaz, in the Morzine valley where I grew up. I could recognize every turn, nook and cranny on the road, guess which vista would show up around the next corner, as if I was still there, even though I haven't lived in that place for about 35 years. These mountains looks as gorgeous as ever and while I would love to be in Haute-Savoie, I couldn't stand leaving the Rockies behind, so here I am in a quandary, hanging between the Alps and the Rocky Mountains and playing yo-yo with the two!
I could just as easily say that “you could take the me out of the Rockies or the Alps, but you could never take the mountains out of me...” and I could never imagine myself ending up in Bora-Bora, Maui or Dubuque, Iowa. I belong to the mountains and the mountains are planted in me like an organ I couldn't live without; so here you have me, “mountain man” almost, but full-time city dweller or beachcomber? Never!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Living with snobs

Like many other mountain towns, Park City claims a healthy and significant “snob” population. Last December I was trying to explain how some of us enter that unique but unlimited club when it comes to membership, and today, I wanted to explore how people who think themselves as down to earth can navigate through that segment of population without feeling frustrated, jealous or even angry.
My first line of defense against these folks is to become an observer, like a bird or a whale watcher, and marvel at the “plumage” and all the fancy and studied “moves” displayed by each of them. It's somehow like placing myself into the shoes of some anthropologist trying to decipher their highly orchestrated behavior. My next approach is to make a point to acting naturally, very naturally. Being my very self, with all of my kirks, including the entire sum of my likeable and hateful traits. This effort forces me into a true rebirth and a process of rediscovering how plain, boring and uninteresting I can be when I make the effort. If I ever succeed, the rest of the (normal) world can see how good I can be at practicing... reverse snobbery!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Landlords and tenants imagining too much!

My good friend Bill Bocquet is renegotiating a commercial lease in New York City and I'm trying to finalize a similar operation with a renter in Park City. Even thought we stand in perfectly opposite positions, we both have needs, wants and expectations that are not going to be necessarily embraced by the other party. Each one of them falls victim of imaginary scenarios that turn to be more difficult and complicated than they need to be. We're both thinking of posturing, standing our ground, getting the very best deal possible out of a long-drawn negotiating process.

Yet, as Buddha would say, there's a “middle way” that neither party is able to visualize and focus on. This isn't just about business, but also extends to our personal lives. We're tough, greedy, cynical, are fighting for the extremes, our very best interests and are forgetting that the ideal outcome, which breeds harmony and happiness, is simply located half-way in between. Could we cut to the chase, get there to begin with and manage to have the entire transaction expedited stress-free? That would be far too easy...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Go catch a few concerts!

Our summers are so fun that it make them hard to manage. There's so much going on that between gorgeous weather, vacation time, gardening, festivals of all kinds and an almost infinite array of outdoors activities, we often get too forgetful about what to do when the sun is about to set. That's precisely when the other face of town begins to wake up with a cornucopia of entertainment options that can only be found during summer months and here, I am specifically thinking about Deer Valley outdoor concerts, in the unique and super-natural Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater.

The best thing about Deer Valley summer concerts is that there's always something for everyone. From the Wednesday evening free concerts, featuring local artists, to the new classic “St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights Concert Series,” the always ultra-classic Utah Symphony, all the way to a some bigger-than-life artists brought to us by United Concerts, there's absolutely no excuse for not getting out and enjoying a wonderful picnic while listening to music we enjoy. The last time I counted, I found at least thirty Deer Valley concerts waiting to entertain us!
If carrying your house and most of its contents on your back is your style, simply set up camp on Deer Valley's green grass and take full advantage of the lawn-sitting option that allows you to spread all your belongings on a large blanket that will be your territory for the evening. If you have underestimated your appetite or if your significant other forgot to pack the sandwiches or add some dessert, there's always the Deer Valley's food and beverage concession stand that stays open during the entire concert and never fails to provide the extra something that you should have brought along.

If you enjoy outdoor music as much as you crave for great food, there's another quintessential experience, the famous Deer Valley Gourmet Picnic Basket. Remember, this is Deer Valley, and a concert wouldn't be the wonderful experience it can be without the resort's epicurean food, its incredible variety and surprising twists. The baguette that sticks out of the wicker basket acts like a magnet on me, quite probably because I'm from France, but it's only the tip of the... iceberg. If you adore nibbling on smoked salmon, chilled filet or on the contrary are set on a vegetarian fare, if you covet these delightful aioli-seasoned artichokes, can't resist a salami that tastes as if it had been bootlegged from Italy or a piece Brie that could have been just purchased at a French country store, you may have a hard time paying attention to the performance, but whoever suggested that multitasking was easy!

If you drove a tiny-winy car like a Smart, rode a Vespa scooter, made it on your cruiser bike or better yet, arrived to Snow Park on-board the free city bus because you care so much about your carbon footprint, carrying lawn chairs around is never a convenient option; the best solution is to go for the reserved seating that not only is comfortable but also provides you with the very best seats in the house.

Now, that your only real hard work is to pick among these wonderful alternatives, and if you're really serious about keeping your musical culture up where it belong, isn't it time you got out and caught several of these great concerts while summer lasts?

Running around the world!

Road running began for me in the summer of 1977 in the hot and muggy New York weather. Since that time, I have run enough to circle the globe. In practical terms, I have already covered more than 25,000 miles, and in doing so, have worn over 30 pairs of running shoes, perhaps a half-a-dozen running shorts, four training suits and few dozen t-shirts. A inexpensive sport that never ceases to amaze me and brings me so much well-being both psychologically and physically. My goal is to make two full loops around our lovely planet before my running career comes to an end. For those of you who love to keep notes, that's another 23 years (correct, I run more than I used to and I'm such an optimist!) and after all, there are still at least 140 countries where I've yet to enjoy a good run!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Showing up at the concert

Summers in Park City are studded with as many outdoor concerts as there seems to be stars in the sky as night falls, and along with all the listening pleasure that's including with our impressive musical venues, comes an infinite opportunity for "people watching." First, let me preface this by saying that folks come to these concerts with various motivations. Some are just music lovers, others want to blend the outdoors, dining and entertainment while others just want to be seen, with of course lots of shade in between these groups. The latter type of people are obviously the more interesting to observe as they display themselves as birds of colors.
They generally do a wonderful job at getting noticed. They dress (or undress) the part, move a lot, talk loudly and abundantly expose themselves so they can't be missed. They're of course in competition with the band, the pleasant weather, the drinks and the food that inside the public plates, and they generally do a great job at staying on top of that contest. There's even a guy that comes to every (free) concert and regularly entertains a crowd of two to three dozen people, moving his cocktail shaker around as he creates an endless flow of Martinis while he turns his back to the stage. There is another type of spectators that I failed to mentioned earlier; it's those that also love to watch the scene while listening to the music and having dinner. We're part of that latter group...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The small extra effort...

We all know that the difference between champions and between winning and losing is often quantifiable into minute differences that often are within one or two percentage points if not less, yet winners always reach the top by keeping on delivering this extra effort, that over time, will hoist them to where they want to be. The encouraging aspect of all this is that we're all capable of incorporating that push for the extra effort as life-long habit; not just in sports, but also into our professional and personal lives. It's often a matter of not putting off till later what could be handled right now.

Over time, these incremental “little efforts” will ratchet us into better positions for all of these categories. To make them happen and become part of our daily lives only requires us to keep on believing in ourselves and in what we do. I tend to call him the “cumulative effect” and just like it only take a few extra drinks a day to become a bona fide alcoholic, accomplishing a few extra efforts on a daily basis will shoot us over to the top in far less time than we think!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Lessons from painting...

As a yearly chore and to keep everything protected for another twelve month, I re-seal our driveway and entry path each summer. Over the years, the quality of my job improves, simply because I spend more time on preparation, including a good organization and a thorough cleaning process. As those of us who have done any house painting know, the process involves 80% preparation (if not more) and 20% execution.

We tend to loath the entire process as it always conjures a lot of work, but if we take it down into separate pieces and as if we were preparing for military battle, it can turn into a game of sharp skills that unfolds like clockwork. When the task is a repetitive one, like the one I just did yesterday, we have the opportunity to incorporate all the teachings we've learned from past mistakes as well as all the cool tricks we've picked up over time to create a well-orchestrated operation. This year, what was normally a dreadful assignment finally turned into a fun operation!

Monday, July 5, 2010

When all becomes short-term

We live in a constantly evolving world, filled with fast decisions, lightning-speed action and increasing expectation for instant results. Yet, when I observe my veggie garden that I seeded very late this season as I was nursing a lumbago and waiting for winter to go away, I realize that these expectations won't ever work for my salads which – as always – take an inordinate amount of time to grow. More folks should actually grow vegetables to appreciate that reality; in the absence of wonder chemicals and other evil tricks, nature takes the time it needs to operate on most everything.

We all seem to have forgotten this “time-principle;” we screw up the world over years of wanton management and neglect, we don't carefully maintain what ought to be cared for, we would love to see our economy rebound as fast as we'd need, our environment cleaned up before we can realize it, and yet, no such magic turnaround happens that fast in real life. We only seem willing to accept what our generals proclaim about the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, in that they will take “more time” to be fully prosecuted. As we've generally lost a good sense of what time really is and forgot about the virtue of patience, gardening might be a could idea for us to reset our internal clocks in sync with world reality...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

More careful – Part II

On April 21, I wrote my blog on the importance of being more careful when I go out and about, skiing, mountain biking and having all sorts of fun. Not so long ago, I used to be a risk-hungry “animal” and today, I've suddenly begun to becoming much tamer. Ski and even bathroom accidents (yeah, if you can believe that!) as well as a capricious back have given me more good reasons to embrace physical risk with more caution.

Three days later after I wrote that piece, I also heard that my good friend François Feuz was victim of a freak, life-changing fall while skiing, and this event brought the “danger sign” even much closer to home. Today, I increasingly realize that with my time on this planet shrinking day by day, my remaining time becomes increasingly precious – what am I writing, priceless! - so it's now up to me to become especially kind with that good body of mine that has taking me that far and so comfortably into a wonderful life experience.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Hair, forty-two year later...

Last night we went to see Hair, the American Tribal Love-Rock Musical that was performing at the Egyptian Theater in Park City. I'd never seen the show before and missed the 1979 movie version too; I guess I was too busy growing up during these times. As we were strolling Main Street last evening, we just fell upon the box-office, bought two-tickets and voilà! We found ourselves transported in the midst of the late sixties counterculture and had a very enjoyable time with a great cast and an overall good performance. This goes to show that nothing is ever too late...

Why isn't the economy revving up?

While the stock market is eating itself up, the unemployment not really shrinking and the rest of the world going down in flames, everyone seems to wring their hands at our free-falling economy and on the surface, they're right, but when we really think about it, we are doing this to ourselves by willingly bathing in an ocean of negativity.

Begin with the republican opposition, which is only doing that, opposing every single White House initiative, except keeping us at war. They're in my view the biggest culprits, then there's the media who can only focus on the BP oil disaster making it like a major sport even akin to “the Demolition Olympics.” And there's all the rest, from the Mexican drug cartel murders, the Greek crisis and its cohort of disagreements on how to best deal with governmental debt and the like all the way to Pope Benedict unwilling to step down on pedophilia. How can most people feel good with all this negative bombardment. Can we spend a little bit more to revive the economy? No, we're much too scared. In my view, its past time for someone (President Obama?) to quell that destructive propaganda and find a creative way to turning it around, in America's vital interest.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Immigration reform and BP...

President Obama just reignited the debate about emigration, in time in seems, for the November election. Like in the BP disaster, it seem obvious to me that any effort made in fixing the problem should start with addressing and resolving the “leak.” What I mean by that is enforce the law and track down illegals in a rather aggressive manner. I know what I'm talking about; I came here as an immigrant and worked up my status to permanent resident, then citizen, by following the rules after going through the all hoops set in place by the immigration system. What I think about the whole matter is quite simple. Everyone should be handed a biometric card, and should have to produce it one upon request by law enforcement authority, whether one's white, yellow, brown or black.

If the card can't be produced, the person is shipped outside of the US at the country of origin's expense and barred from ever, ever re-entering the country. Employers who disregard an applicant's biometric information would be summarily shut down. All that would take care of the “leak.” For those who are already here illegally, they would have to register, fill an application, prove that their skills are in demand or that they are employed (albeit illegally), be willing to settle a substantial fee, payable over time like a student loan, and if they have not committed crimes, have paid all their taxes and other obligations such as contribution to social security and medicare, they would eventually earn permanent resident status.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Free, fair or balanced trade?

While I've long been convinced that the so-called “free-trade” doctrine has consisted in shipping abroad western know-how in exchange for cheap goods and huge corporate profits, I'm convinced that it also has dismantled our way of living, made our unemployment worst and is contributing to widening the gap between rich and poor, not just worldwide but within our own country. I see the process as burning the furniture in order to say warm. Without getting into examining fair trade, which is another twist in the whole trade philosophy, I'm a proponent of a better approach to trading that could appropriately called “balanced.” I have already introduced that idea in this blog on March 23 and 24, 2009, and still think it has lots of merits.

One element that I missed when I wrote that piece was the elimination of all government subsidies which, in many instances, have triggered the push for “fair trade.” Again, my proposal would be duty-free for equal trading between countries (that is, for the same values of goods changing hand) and levy a duty on goods that exceed this equal level of exchange. This would offer a self-regulating mechanism that wouldn't make the WTO happy, but might reframe the debate between "we the people" and the big corporations...