Friday, September 30, 2011

Family reunion

Tonight, we were invited to the Chaudanne restaurant by the families of my brother and my sister. This restaurant located in Morzine is a great place both in terms of its decor and  excellent menu.

Almost the whole family was present. Only missing were Valerie's and our children family who were in the United States.Despite a pretty loud noise, we spent a very fun evening and discover what "the shot"was; namely, a gigantic bottle of pear brandy so tall that it hit us right in bull's eye!

Mathis, the youngest member of the family present - here between Christel and Gilles, his parents - and Yves as well as Anne-Lise whom met for the first time, represented the lifeblood and the future of the family. The eveningwas very friendly and that is it made us extremely happy to spend it with the whole gang!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Complicated European living

We arrived today in Geneva and began our trip crossing that town – a really bad idea of mine. Traffic was crawling and when we get to the French side of Annemasse, we stopped to get SIM and 3G cards for my phone and my laptop. It took forever to park our car, get to the store and obtain the products we wanted.

As if the French loved to make simple things complicated, just for the fun of it. Yes, as my son recently said upon his return from vacation to France; “Europe is so complicated! Nothing's easy” and he's so right!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The ever-changing flying experience

This trip to Europe was the first time we had a chance to experience the direct, Salt Lake City to Paris flight. So, instead of doing one of these first legs to New York first and then Geneva Switzerland or adding a third leg to our trip, we did a “big arc” over the ocean into Paris and then just had a short one-hour flight to endure between Paris and Geneva.

We also purchased a seat with more leg room, known as “Delta Economy Comfort” and our legs almost felt as if they were in business class. The food though, wasn't upper class; it was frankly disgusting. The worst in fact we ever had in an airplane. I guess there has to be a first for everything!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fresh haircut

As we're leaving tomorrow from France, I'm ready for a haircut. For years, and on account of my dwindling mass of hair, my wife does the job and I must say gets it very well. It saves me money and I end up looking much better than I did the last ten days preceding the operation.

I like having almost no hair left on my skull; it feels clean and it's a long cry from my dandruff days. I guess that is one of the few things, that as time goes on, only gets better!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Last minute assignment

Today has been a bit crazy. We're leaving for France in two days and I have to shoot and deliver that video before I leave. It's a complicated one to boot, but I'll do my very best and try to think it through well so I don't find myself with a missing parts when I began editing. This is call pressure and it's good to add this component to my budding experience as a videographer!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Economy as I see it (Part 4)

This discussion began on September 20. So to survive and thrive, we must be creative and innovative; I buy the argument but wonder if sometime we aren't too encumbered by some old way of thinking. How can we think differently, so we can see a different angle or discover a totally different perspective. In today's language, we'd say “thinking out of the box...” Much easier said than done.

How can we free our thinking process from fear of failure, fear of wasting time, fear of feeling stupid? I can't really say, I don't really have an answer, and while I'm working on some way to unclog our “vision-pipes” or set our “creative streams” free, I certainly would welcome some tips in that department. Should we return to our inner child state? Should we use drugs or alcohol to see the light? I don't think the later is worth it.

I do suspect however that the pathway to innovative enlightenment are within ourselves. Perhaps the answer is to simply act naturally, without expectations, in full relaxation and take whatever comes to us, sort it out, look for what appears to be a potential winner and run with it? What's your recipe?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Gaddafi hit by falling satellite

Some of my secret international contacts just told me that some people have a knack of finding themselves at the wrong place, at the wrong time. While the exact location hasn't been determined yet, certain credible witnesses have seen that Muammar Gaddafi, the fugitive Libyan leader was standing in the way of the falling satellite debris that landed on earth last night.

While his assistants successively warned: “Look up Chief! It's a plane... excuse me, it's a satellite... no, it's a school bus! Watch out!” the fearless leader was slapped by one of the “flying bus” exit doors in full face and was saved from certain death by his over-sized designer sunglasses, my sources reported...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Another reason to worry!

If you think that between the economy, Muammar Gaddafi, the stock market and the weather, there's not enough to worry about, look up over your heads and watch for that twenty-year old, bus-sized satellite to fall back on earth. They say it will be scattered into small pieces before it falls into my backyard, but I'm still terribly worried.

I just hope satellites don't have wheels, these could hurt... Well, I'm going to be spending these next two days inside my basement!

Skiing is Around the Corner!

September is a perfect month for conditioning the body and the mind in preparation to a brand-new ski season. I won’t discuss today a physical training program but will instead focus on the many goals I have begin to set, back in April, when I reluctantly said goodbye to a record-breaking snow year and some incredible skiing.
Hard to believe it, but five month ago, I was already planning, plotting and anticipating what my next ski season would be like.

I must say that 2010/2011 provided me with more creative ways to ski from point A to point B. True, that past winter became one of the most interesting one for me, since I moved to Utah, 26 years ago. To break-up with routine in my skiing, I decided to launch an all-out exploration of Deer Valley Resort, including its most obscure nooks and crannies, deliberately venturing out of the beaten path, whether it would be smooth corduroy-groomed runs, bumps or even wide-open deep-powder slopes. I began looking for the gnarly side of the terrain, regularly sampling Daly Chutes, Triangle Trees and Centennial Trees.

What motivated that urge for exploration was my new toy, a helmet-mounted video cam that documented almost each one of my turns and each tree that stood in my way. Most of that experimentation was done solo and just seeing two gloved hands holding poles plus a pair of ski tip upfront made for a rather boring movie to watch. So next year, I plan to add real people to my films. From friends to family, to visitors to Deer Valley, dedicated Ski Patrol members all the way to Ski School staff.

All of them will help give texture and depth to my action movies and make sharing that experience in motion much more interesting. You’ll be able to get a front row seat to what happens on skis, with great people, fantastic snow, exciting speed and wonderful scenery! I’m already plotting my scenes, planning the shots and anticipating a triple dose of fun; first when I shoot the movie, while I edit it and finally the day the finished video is shared with all of you!

So this coming season expect to get close and personal with all Daly Chutes, discover more of “Triangle Trees”, get to know Ontario Bowl inside-out, inventory the trees of Sunset Glade, explore new paths into Centennial Trees and expand your knowledge of Lady Morgan Bowl with its secret trails and surprising exits; I’ll do my very best to documenting and memorializing each special clump of trees that hides the key to a smooth and uninterrupted meandering through the forest…

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Obama and Israel

After showing some toughness in the recent past, mostly through his body-language, President Obama recently capitulated to Benjamin Netanyahu by sticking to the U.S. resolution to veto a positive vote from the U.N. Security Council regarding Palestine's full membership in the World Organization.
It seems to me like another move that is “too little, too late,” as most of the Jewish voters who used to support Barack Obama have now moved to the Republican Party. Now, tell me, where's Hillary Clinton in that whole debate?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Economy as I see it (Part 3)

This discussion began on September 20. Yesterday, I suggested that to keep society afloat and to bring jobs to an increasingly large number of people, we must accelerate innovation and this effort will keep on growing as long as our world population gets larger and that there's a will to bring the rest of the world to a more equal economical status.

This sounds like an exponentially shaped effort that seems very hard to sustain. While I don't doubt about human resourcefulness and potential for new ideas, I see that we might end up with a crowded, fast and untenable rate race. How can we harness it? First, by capping population growth and then by setting goals as to what is reasonable, comfortable and humanly attainable. Thinking about all that makes me dizzy, so I'll quit for today!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Economy as I see it (Part 2)

This follows yesterday's blog. Today, we'll talk about automatizing tasks, from office computer work, to robots on the assembly line, to smarter devices, power tools and the like. One could say that Steve Jobs and Bill Gates have made themselves incredibly rich on the backs of the lowly workers, but if that pair had not been there, someone else would have brought computing the stage it is today; it might just have taken a tad longer...

What's clear is that by increasing productivity we'd need much more work to do if we were to keep everyone employed. We're growing the world population as fast as we can to generate a constant supply of growth but this is woefully inadequate to catch up with productivity gains, so where do we find enough to do to occupy everyone? Tough question indeed. The French had tried to “share the workload” by offering a 35 hour work week, but that didn't fly too well. Is there a path to higher quality that would pick up that slack?

Is alternative energy and medical research two avenues that hold enough promises to absorb all of that unemployed? Better yet, this might mean that we must accelerate innovation by moving forward faster, better in a wide variety of fields. This seems to be the logical answer. Now the follow-up question: What have we done – as individuals – to create something new, to address a need, solve a problem or create something new that the rest of the world will eat up?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Economy as I see it (Part 1)

I'm not impressed by economists, statesmen and political figures who seem to put vague theories ahead of good common sense when they discuss and make definite pronouncements on global economic issues. In that discussion series, I will attempt to convey my views in a simple, logical and hopefully, understandable presentation.

I will try to explain why massive automation, cheap communications, containerization, overpopulation, bad trade agreements, emerging economic powers and income disparities have brought us into the hole we are into at the moment and will also take a shot at outlining some solutions that might be capable to extract us out of that painful and complex situation.

Since I will need to gather my best thoughts and lay them into an articulate presentation, this will take some time, so please, be patient!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Africa bursting at the seams!

The other day I received that email containing a video link showing Muslims praying in Paris streets with the caption “France today and the world tomorrow!” This was obviously one of these bigoted messages that we all receive from time to time that I generally ignore. Yet, the problem isn't about an unstoppable Islam but religion in general. Consider this; today Africa's population is about 1 billion and is projected to grow to twice that number by 2050, outstripping the rest of the world's projected population growth, from 7 to 10.5 billion. One of the reasons for the “Arab spring” was youth jobs and it had less to do with the evil tyrants ruling these Arab countries than the fact there are simply too many young people for not nearly enough jobs. In addition, chronic famines have become the norm in Africa, exemplified with what's going on today in the Northeastern part of that continent.

So what are the Africans to do: Seep more and more into Europe (the easiest way) and eventually get to the rest of the developed world in the hope of sharing into its dwindling riches. And what should be done if we want to change that? Get massive birth control education and tools to Africa, before even thinking about jobs and food. That's called getting to the root of the problem instead of fighting a host of symptoms. Easy said than done, because we would have to jump over the objections of the Christian Fundamentalists and other religious factions that still believe there's plenty of space available on that planet, that also think that making more babies is the easiest way to proselyte and should never taken off the table. Perhaps these guys are still counting on the “rapture” to address overpopulation!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

UBS like Swissair?

I was shocked when Swissair went out of business several years ago. I thought the company was something that would last as long as the human civilization. I also regarded the Swiss bank UBS in the same way, and that until some time in 2008 when it became clear that the right hand didn't know what the left hand was doing in dealing with American securitized mortgages. Today, it's a so-called “rogue trader” and a $2 million loss that's making the news. Give me a break, I wouldn't trust a bank like that more than I once trusted a fine, Swiss airline...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Is Subaru a “cult car?”

It's been quite a few years since we haven't had one or two Subaru inside our garage and while we enjoy the cars we drive, I'm missing my Subaru. I'm missing it in a way that is hard to describe and that almost invokes an irrational attachment to a product or a brand; I can't explain how that is and why I somehow manage to find in it a reflection of my personality.

Just like the Citroën 2cv I used to drive when I was young, Subarus are filled with odities and quirks that I like, yet defy conventional wisdom and provide me with an avenue to be different from the rest. It's funny how irrational it is that we can become “fan” of a product that's a bit marginal like a Subi can be. So don't even attempt to convince me otherwise; my next car is quite likely to be again a Subaru!

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Getting together at Lake Tahoe with a bunch of guys I had not seen for a long while was quite an experience. That's right, I hadn't seen Jean-Louis Villiot since one day of April 1975 in the town of Banff, Alberta! Now that we are a bit older, we are bringing different perspectives and have become significantly more laid-back. We have nothing to prove anymore and posturing doesn't add up to anything significant; no one will hire us anymore!
Sure, they were those who came to show off their fancy car, their cool clothes and couldn't resist telling us how well they had done in their professional career; fortunately these folks were the exception. Yet, at the end of the day, what counted was to be present, to be one's very self, to remain able and open enough to listen, smile, relax and enjoy a wonderful opportunity to reminisce the good old days, or at least what we thought they were, because today isn't so bad after all!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pascal's Wager

A few days ago, I was talking “religion” and discussing the probabilities of life after death. I stayed away from discussing the existence of God, here we go today:

Possible? I really don't know; it could go either way. There's perhaps no such thing as “God” as organized religions see it, but some cosmic intelligence; would this qualify?
Probable? No way to really tell
Verifiable? Even if you die, there's really no way, unless God speaks to you directly, in which case you might want to see a shrink...
Conclusion: Pretty irrational, but you might consider weighing the pros and cons, familiarize yourself with Pascal's Wager, and if you buy into the concept, opt for some form of belief and gain something in the process.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Another debate

Last night, the republican candidates for president gave me another chance to seize the field and realized once more that the two front runners (Romney and Perry) sounded, looked and acted like robots, idiots and were a far cry from presidential material.
The two other candidates trailing in the polls, but worth mentioning were Ron Paul (for his opposition to the war we're entangled in at the moment) and Jon Hunstman (the only well-rounded individual in the whole group). I don't even want to mention the rest of the field...

Monday, September 12, 2011

(Barely) staying up and going backwards

Recently, as we were talking with our son, we were lamenting the declining state of the commercial airline experience. Remember, there was a time, not so long ago, when the flight attendants were nice to passengers, the food was edible, the airplanes clean and the other fellow passengers were civil too.

Also, airplanes weren't full all the time and I've done countless trips over the Atlantic or the Pacific in which I had the full center seats of a wide-body jet to myself and could enjoy a nice sleep. More fortunate folks could also enjoy the speed of supersonic flight over certain routes. Not anymore! Air travel is going to the dogs and I don't see any action in the work to resurrect the old romance of flying. Save these old posters!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

What 9/11 means to me...

Ten years ago, I was alone in our Vail, Colorado, apartment when I first heard about the attack on the radio. I immediately turned on the TV and watch incredulously as the events took a turn for the worst. My first, instinctive reaction was to think “that's revenge for all the misery we've inflicted the Palestinian people...” Some might argue with that statement, but I still believe that I was spot on.
After that, we embarked into a war that still goes on in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan at a cost to us, the taxpayers, of about $3.7 trillion, killing about 225,000 individuals, not counting the injured, and creating 7.8 million refugees by the time the conflicts end, according to a recent report released by Brown University.

Was that price worth it? Absolutely not in my opinion. We should have used special forces, hunted down bin Laden and that would have been quick and fairly easy. Instead, what we did was like using a huge bulldozer to level a tiny ant-hill. It just gave Bush-Cheney a political platform and ruined our Nation. This anniversary is a sad day indeed for our Country.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

About Obama's job plan

We heard it on radio and didn't watch President Obama's speech on his new plan for creating job and were not that impressed. What we liked about it was his admonition to congress to act now instead of playing politics for another 14 month, but we thought there was no revolutionary idea in what he said that would significantly “move the needle” in these bleak times. The first thing this economy needs is a willingness from both parties to working together. We're not there yet.

We're still in the bickering phase and while Cantor and Boehner are getting concerned about the GOP painting itself into a corner and potential losses in 2012, their GOP presidential candidates are staying at the opposite end of the spectrum and are still bashing the President for everything he's done, said and intend to do. A turn-around in the Nation's economic destiny must go by a truce between our two opposing parties and has to take the form of significant concessions on the part of the right which has been following an obstructionist path since Obama was elected. Failing such a drastic change, we're in for more descent into the economic and moral abyss...

Friday, September 9, 2011

Nation-building... in America!

Crossing Nevada from Utah to California (or vice-versa) can only be done in three ways: Thru I-80, the more boring and direct crossing, through Highway 50, also dubbed “the loneliest road in America” that is something most (smart) people only accomplish once in their lifetime or south, through Highway 6 that is by far the most scenic, allows 70 mph most of the way and is punctuated by only two major old mining towns, Tonopah and Ely.

Another town worth noting is McGill, located just north of Ely and this is one of these miserable-looking places that can be found in many American rural spots. McGill happens to be a census-designated place, which is a concentration of population identified by the United States Census Bureau for statistical purposes. It's a town of 1,054 people, with a median
income for household of $32,039 and more than 10% of its population below the poverty line, which means that Nation-building belongs right here; not in Afghanistan!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Return to Mammoth Mountain

The exit route out of Yosemite, via Tioga Pass, brought us to the Eastern slope of the Sierras and we decided to stop at Mammoth Lakes for the night. The mountains are spectacular and there was still snow left on top, showing off this past winter moguls...

As a community, Mammoth Lakes in another hodgepodge of architectural styles and an admission of poor urban planning, yet we enjoyed the stay. I had not been there for at least 27 years and my wife skied there in 1978. I promised myself to return there, midweek, next May for some serious skiing!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Checking out Yosemite

While in the California Sierras, we finally took the opportunity to visit Yosemite National Park. The park covers more than 750,000 (3 000 km2) and reaches across the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain chain. We were among the 3.7 million people or so who visit that park each year. We did it all in a couple of days, including of course the relatively small Yosemite Valley and watched climbers test their skills on El Capitan.

The views are spectacular and quite unique but require a lot of driving which we did without any problem. We'd like to return, take our time (perhaps up to a week) and yes, I want to climb the Half-Dome!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Pushing myself? It depends...

I think I love sports, but I hate having to push myself when I'm in a group. In many ways, that's why I don't enjoy competitions, whether it's running, riding a biking or hiking a peak. What is certainly true is that I never was good nor enjoyed participating in team sports. In that respect, call me a loner if your want. In the context of a group effort, fear that I will have to go all the way, bleed myself out of all energy and perhaps die in the process.

What is certain, is that I prefer sports in my private sphere, on my own and on my own terms. I decide and control the pace. If I need or want to push myself, I'll do it, but won't accept to be asked or pushed into a competitive display of physical force. I'm certainly capable of pushing my own limits, but I like to do it when I'm the only one watching. Why is this? I can't really explain. Fear of failure or admission of weakness in front of others? Quite possible and now that I know it, I guess I can live with it!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Another dream

As I've said before, I have a hard time remembering dreams. Last night, I had that dream in which I was working with a man called Richard Mamez (he used to be the director of marketing for Look in France, just before the company was acquired by the French raider Bernard Tapie) and he was harassing me.

I wonder what Richard who is about my age does these days (he's probably retired too) but he should stop poking needles in his voodoo doll called Go11!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Happy after a bad dream

A few weeks ago, I had that terrible dream that I was driving a truck and while I was behind the wheel,
I was somehow maneuvering something else inside the vehicle. As I reached a curve, the truck began to swing back and forth before rolling over into a deep abyss. That was just enough to wake me up and have me feeling good to still be alive !

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Denys Liboz celebration of life.

Yesterday, family and friends gathered in Tahoe City, California, to celebrate the life of Denys Liboz who left us on April 8, 2011. The event was very emotional and was a wonderful opportunity to see a lot of old friends, meet new people and get to know the vibrant French community that made Lake Tahoe its home.

In the late sixties, Denys Liboz arrived from France to China Peak, California, where he worked as a ski coach and would begin a life-long career in the ski industry and the sporting goods business. In the early seventies, he moved to Lake Tahoe and while still a coach and instructor, began to work for Look ski bindings as a race-technician attached to the US Ski Team. He loved living at the Lake, got married, purchased a home and began to grow roots in that wonderful place.

A few years later, he moved from the ski racing scene into a manufacturing rep career that would last until his illness forced him to abandon all activity. In the process and over the years, Denys has touched lots of people and has made many friends, some of whom are here today to reminisce the Denys they knew and had grown to appreciate so much...

Friday, September 2, 2011

Possible, probable, verifiable, irrational?

When you wonder about religion and its tenets, it helps to follow the following check list. I'll give you a few examples and you'll get where I'm going...

Example One:
Man walking on Mars
Possible? Yes
Probable? Give it a few more years and tons of money
Verifiable? We did it a few time on the moon; that's pretty satisfactory.
Conclusion: Totally rational thought

Example Two:
Monkey typing “art” on a computer keyboard in three strokes, without prior training or learning...
Possible? Yes
Probable? One chance in 600,000 or something in that order
Verifiable? Read the infinite monkey theorem and it seems that it is
Conclusion: A stretch, but still rational

Example Three
Life after death
Possible? Not really, except in altered forms; i.e. Atoms of Carbon, among other residual matters
Probable? Not in full form
Verifiable? No one has ever come back from the dead to prove it was indeed possible
Conclusion: Totally irrational

That's it for today; draw your own conclusions and remember this is about life after death, not godly existence.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Being seen at the concerts

Last night marked our last summer season concert in Park City. We'll have seen 14 of them and most were good. We've also noticed a growing number of well-grown-up ladies exhibiting themselves in view of the audience as if they were competing against the stage performers. During an entire show, they'll move around as if they has some sort of attention-deficit-disorder, ants in their pants or a combination of both. Up and down, going here and running there.
You can't miss them and this precisely is what they must have in mind. These women are generally well past their prime, look deceivingly young from the back, but after they perform a 90 or 180 degree rotation, good looks take another turn. Below the neck is mostly fine, but the face generally shows the ravage of time, under the form of high-tension face lift jobs of varying quality and stages of decay.

I don't know what possesses these ladies, but it appears that they're desperately vying for visibility, trying to capture new or future mates or make themselves a place in Park City history books. I thought we used to be digging for silver here, not gold...