Tuesday, January 31, 2012

France viewed from Lausanne, Switzerland...

Back in June of 1983, we were touring Switzerland and Italy with the U.S. Lange sales force and as I we were on the Swiss side of Geneva Lake, around Lausanne, I pointed to one of them (Rob Mucci from Boston, to be exact) where I came from and had lived for a quarter of a century and at that point, I remember feeling an intense nostalgia about my roots, my country, my hometown and a whole piece of my life that I was about to leave behind.

It looked so close, almost palpable, yet it was already too far to reach for. This probably was a seminal moment in letting go of my origins, of Europe and of a long chapter in my personal history. It happen there and then and that was it...

Monday, January 30, 2012

End of Fest

By this evening we'll have seen 14 movies during the Sundance Film Festival that has officially closed yesterday. Tonight screenings are for locals only, but overall, this year's event was a very good one with excellent movies, lots of inspiration and never a dull moment!

We are glad it's over though because we're tired of running from theater to theater, to stand in line and to somehow stress out too much. Plus, we need to go back to our routine, go skiing again and live “normally” for a change...

I've absorbed a lot of ideas that will help me enhance my video work and will also help me take my favorite hobby way further. This experience is – once more – telling me that everything is possible, which I knew, but feel good being reminded of!

Sunday, January 29, 2012


As we grow older we often become less relevant. That's not an absolute truth, but a well accepted reality. What's relevant anyway though? Communism is no more relevant today than alchemy was still a few centuries ago and so are the “good reasons” for going to war against, and invade Iraq, right?

Relevance is like the wind, it can blow hard, turn and fade away. Staying relevant might be a way to remain present, active and very much alive. Then the question we ought to ask ourselves, everyday, might be like this one: “What have I done today to remain relevant tomorrow?”

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Movie envy

Seeing all these great movies during the festival is not tempering or slowing down my new-found passion for video and filming. Quite the contrary! Now, I'd love to produce a full-length documentary.
I almost know what it will be about, but I'm not ready to tell anyone just yet. For the moment, simply be patient; you'll know in time!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Can video also kill skiing?

You may remember the 1979 song “video killed the radio star,” well the same is happening with my skiing. My addiction to video is now doing some serious damage to my skiing as I spend more time shooting and editing video footage that I used to spend skiing into deep powder and around skis.

It's true that winter chose to come one good month later this year. Maybe will I be able to juggle my two dependencies. We'll tally the whole thing and draw some conclusions at the end of the season...

Thursday, January 26, 2012


The Sundance Film Festival is no picnic. Even if you are well organized, you must go from point A to point B, make sure you miss not screening time, look up for the bus, your schedule and juggle with the rest of your life.
The fact we're volunteering early in the morning from 7 am to 10 am adds to the stress and is another subtle reminder that we're not twenty anymore!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Leaks: How frustrating!

Imagine there's a leak in the house that originates somewhere in the roof, but you can't locate it with any precision as the bead of water runs along some piece of wood and the place where the drop happens is just at some other location. If it's winter, there's even snow and ice to remove and this make the chase even more confusing and frustrating. What's one to do in a situation like this?

The answer is as deceptively simple as the problem is deeply complicated: Observe very attentively, be patient, methodical and keep moving in the investigative work. There's no rush solution available; it's another test for our atrophied, 21st century patience!

Skiing doesn't have to be difficult!

If you still believe that skiing is hard to learn, long to master and also is expensive, there is a way to change this misconception. During the month of January, ski mountains around the country, offer a learn-to-ski program specially targeted to those who never had a chance to pick up the sport during their early years or when they couldn't quite afford it.

I wish I had been able to learn skiing by taking some easier way and didn't have struggle as much as I did when I first encountered the sport. At that time, even though I lived in the Alps, there was no convenient and affordable program available for school-age kids like me and my modest beginnings on snow were placed under the banner of “teach yourself to ski,” with a wooden pair of skis handcrafted by my own dad, including a set of basic bear trap bindings with non releasable cable clasps.

As for the conveniently located “beginner slope” next to the family house, it offered no lift of any kind to carry us to the top of a hill that consisted of a short and fairly steep slope, cut into the forest that surrounded a fairly large meadow. That ski run, a trench into the trees, was crowned with a makeshift jump. That's right, it was almost as if I was expected to jump before I could even learn how to ski, but that's how it was in these days. Then, the line between modern alpine skiing and Nordic remained still a bit blurred and jumping continued to be considered as being part of the total ski experience.

I don't even remember exactly what I did, but I must have somehow practiced sliding on the snow and perfected a semblance of “hockey stop” before I dared to launch off that crude jumping hill. That's right; I could descent and stop by making one single right-hand turn at the bottom of the hill (I'm a lefty...) In addition to my forays into catching big air off that jump, I also had to participate into some cross-country races which I hated with a passion, as my crude wooden skis and their bare bases could not perform nearly as well as the real cross-country skis owned by my most fortunate school mates.

So that's how things began for me. Later, I remember working as a lift attendant during the school holidays. This entitled me to a free ski pass and that's how I seriously learned how to ski - never with formal lessons - but through simple observation, imitation and sheer mileage. I wish I could have had access to some formal type of instruction, but it never came until the time I decided to become a ski instructor. Only then, did my technique got “corrected” and my terrible skiing “habits” unbent by some high ranking and very dogmatic “ski professors.”

Just a few days ago, as I was shooting a video about Katie Fredrickson taking her very first steps on skis, I was amazed by the evolution of the ski equipment now made available to beginners and by the markedly improved teaching methods that can, in just a couple of hours, turn a non-skier into someone able to evolve independently on snow and enjoy the thrills of sliding down some pretty long runs...

January is almost over, but it's not too late for seizing the opportunity of learning how to ski in the very best environment and under the guidance of the most conscientious and talented ski instructors in America. If you or someone you know has been putting off that first day on skis forever, now might be the time to make that life-changing move. You'll be glad you did it and your friends will thank you for it!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Another “green” film

Last night we saw “A fierce green fire” at the Sundance Film Festival. This excellent documentary sums up decade of combat by environmentalists in the US and abroad.

What it also showed was that “green” movements are counted by the million but fail to always act in concert. It also missed the issue of overpopulation and couldn't obviously see the “elephant in the room.” It said however that we can't trust politics to achieve anything in that domain and we should just count on ourselves. No secret weapon, no miracle!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Turning drudgery into fun!

We all are faced with unpleasant situations that can ruin a moment, a few hour, a day or more. Generally, we tend to be hard on ourselves and beside self-flagellation and all kinds of recriminations directed into a wide number of different directions, we get down in the dump, prone to despair and depression.

After having followed that path far too many times, I have now changed my way and “distract” my negative feelings by engineering a number of approaches that will make the problem-solving more fun, more creative and more efficient.

Instead of casting a shadow of negativity upon an unpleasant reality, I bring a number of novel solutions that will take my mind out of the demoralizing side of the situation and bring a spirit of adventure into these non-desired, but nonetheless very present circumstances. Try it, it works wonder for me!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

I could be their grandpa!

Not so long ago, when I observed young adults and college students, I was always amazed at their youth, their energy and their potential. My kids were still smaller and perhaps only in high-school, but I often said to myself, “these youngsters could be my own kids!”

Today, when I'm faced with the same encounters, I'm still as amazed as I was then, but this time I can almost say, “this guys and girls could be my grand-kids!”

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Film school

The Sundance Film Festival just begun this week and while I intend to attend quite a few screening this year, my attention for the first-time will be that of a videographer, not just that of a regular movie-goer.

After a year of learning the art of filming and putting image, sound and stories together, it will be refreshing to watch attentively how others (much more professional than me) go about producing the kinds of films we love!

Friday, January 20, 2012

The tyranny of carving...

Carving goes back a long way; I remember carving, or trying to, back in the early 70s after reading Georges Joubert's book which arguably were the first published work to shine a light on a technique that ski racers of that period would use occasionally with the equipment that was available at the moment and on the best prepared racing courses of the times.

With ski sidecut and construction not yet optimized, carving was hard to achieve and it took the tail end of the 20th century to give that technique both the notoriety it needed and the legitimacy it deserved. Yet, all along, carving has just been a mean to and end (skiing) and not the sport's holy grail as many would have us to believe.

That's right carving works best in certain snow and terrain conditions and can totally lose its meaning and purpose in deep snow, bumps crud and challenging conditions, not to mention extremely steep terrain. Yet there are those fanatics who seem to think that there's no salvation without carving.

Of course, I can't disagree more with that view and was reminded of it, a few days ago as I was skiing with a group of local “expert” skiers that couldn't keep up with me on some very steep, yet perfectly groomed Deer Valley ski runs. While they were stuck to their regimented “carving” maneuvers I was free to fly, be my natural self, and maximize the speed that this particular ski run would allow. That's right, whatever it took; not just carving!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The love boat?

The stricken cruise ship Costa Concordia reminds me of my first cruise that took place more than 40 years ago, sailing out of Genoa, Italy to Melbourne, Australia via Durban, South Africa. The whole adventure was in second class, on an Italian liner in which the crew decided to go on strike three days in everyone of our nine ports of call.

The ship was big, looked safe and while the mostly Italian crew was colorful and quite Italian we made it safely to our destination. We practiced a safety drill more than 20 days into the voyage, but that was okay as nothing bad happened to us. Would I ever do a cruise today? Perhaps to peek at some Alaskan glaciers, but otherwise, absolutely not.

I'm repulsed by this modern form mass-tourism, all you can eat mentality and the fact that these cruise lines that not only evade taxes, also exploit cheap and untrained labor from all the struggling world nations. A form of imperialism at its worst.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Printer, ink-jet cartridge and price logic...

Those of you that are using a printer, especially one with ink-jet cartridges know the paradox; the refill is almost as expensive as the printer. Case in point, I looked at the HP website and could find a cheap printer for $29.99 while the matching replacement cartridge was priced at $27.99... This is an example of how crazy our society is going.

Closer to home, so to speak, I had to recently replace a failed water heater that only had 3 years of service. While the unit, still under warranty, was replaced at no charge, I had to fork the astronomical installation cost that was higher than the price of the brand-new unit. This insane situation is leading us into a wasteful, throw-away society. We used to joke about the Sheik that would get a new Cadillac when the gas tank of his old own would reach a dangerous low level. We aren't far from that level of insanity anymore...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Snow and stock market...

Snow conditions and the stock market work the same. When crowds are getting desperate, it signals that we've never been so close to turn-around time. When we're elated, it generally is the time for not-so-good conditions to rear their ugly heads. Today we're standing at the bottom of the barrel. Tomorrow snow is coming over Utah and the turn-around will begin.

Human psychology however has a tough time dealing with these cyclical ups and downs. We should all spend more time reading Lao Tse and finally understand life's wavy nature... Wise leaders seem to grasp that concept. Will we ever learn?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Do you trust “economists?”

By now, you probably know that I don't trust politicians and have them all in very, very low esteem. The category that comes close to them in mediocrity are economists, all trained by prestigious schools and professors who seem to know far less than what they infer.

Consider some recently released transcripts of Fed meetings when Ben Bernanke began his first year as new chairman. Even though he was the only one, among Fed officials to express the most concern about housing, he didn't think it was cause for alarm.

When Bernanke presided over his first meeting as Federal Reserve chairman in March 2006, he stated that the nation’s economy could pull off a “soft landing” from falling home prices. It took him another three months to begin grasping that, he and his colleagues, had underestimated the risk housing posed to the economy. This is a striking example among many.

The list could go on and I don't even want to go into his predecessor's “expertise,” Mr. Greenspan. Most economists don't get it and if you want to make your own good predictions, simply rely on that seldom-used resource we all have inside us, called common sense. Then tell all these economists to become... politicians. They all might stand out like heroes inside this dismal field!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A “Good” job

Yesterday, our grandson Finn spent a few moments with us and we used most of it to play in the backyard with a small snow shovel that he can use when he visits us in Park City. After watching him for a while, I can attest that he'll become a remarkable snow remover when he's grown up.

He sees what needs to be done and shows some real talent with hand tools. What's best though, is that he not only does a very good job, but doesn't hesitate to taste Utah snow. It seems as if it's delectable; after all isn't it called “The Greatest Snow on Earth?”

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Main Street, heart of Park City

There are no many places like Main Street, Park City. This is the bustling heart of our small mountain community and while there is action all year round, it truly comes alive during the winter months.

Normally, snow banks on either sides of the street complete the usual decor. This year, I'm told to remain patient and wait till next week for the “white stuff...”

Friday, January 13, 2012

A fun job is no work!

Making video has become an-all consuming job. As I delve into the subject, I keep on learning more and time does fly between scheduling my shoots, going in the field and making them happen, and piecing everything back together during the editing process.

Since I'm so engrossed with what I do, it's as far remote as working as one could even imagine. I do wish that all people who still need to work for a living can be as lucky as me with a job they love, because it never feels like work!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Corporate Raider zero-sum game...

While Romney is being attacked on his “success” with Bain Capital, the mainstay of the Republican Party is trying to cleanse what corporate raiders are doing by labeling the activity as “good capitalism.”

The problem with that approach is that when a private equity firm like Bain makes money out of turn-around activity, someone has to bleed in order to produce the glorious profits. Either the seller lost money in the deal, the employees are getting laid off or the creditors are forced to take a fraction of their due. This, at the end of the day, is a zero-sum game and someone has to pay for the gain of the investors...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Motivating myself to ski?

With no off-piste option to speak off, even less AT possibilities, it becomes very hard to get motivated to get out and ski, especially when we live in a ski resort and can always hope for a momentous change in snow conditions within a week or so.

That's pretty much where I stand now, and aside from a few on-snow work assignments (thanks God for these), my desire to go out and ski is at a all time low. Further, I still need to nurse my right leg after what happened to it in December. Yeah, there's the terrain park, but I wonder if it's a proper place for a 60+ old man like me?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Skiing like helicopter flying?

Yesterday, I had the questionable idea of skiing 9990 at Canyons. The place is only covered with natural snow and even though it's higher up and quite sheltered, there's not much of it. In fact, it's quite dangerous to ski there if you are less than a bona-fide expert skier. Today, I did my very best in terms of obstacle (read big boulders and stumps) avoidance and still managed to hit plenty of rocks that I couldn't see but definitely felt under my skis.

Just like for helicopters, the ratio of man-hour maintenance to flight time - in that case, to repairing base and edges versus on-snow fun - is likely to be between 3 and 4, which will give me plenty to do this afternoon!

Monday, January 9, 2012

A good book

For quite a while, I had been looking for a good book on video and discovered one totally out of luck last week as I was just browsing inside a large book store.

I picked it up and realized that I really had found the rare gem I wanted all along. A very rare occurrence and another proof that serendipity is alive and well...

Old ski racers

Today, I was a volunteer at the first master ski race of the year and had a chance to watch the not-so-young racers in action. Clearly, out of a field of some 90 participants, the majority were in their 50 and 60s with some younger and also some older folks.

In fact the oldest man was an 83 years old and his female counterpart was about 70. They all made it decently down the slick GS course and that was another positive inspiration!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Improving methods...

It's been at least 38 years since I haven't taught an adult beginner skiing, and it was quite refreshing yesterday to shoot a video showing a morning private lesson with a young adult who had never skied before.

I was amazed how both the equipment and also decades of accumulated best practices and thoughtful ideas have shortened the learning curve and allowed a rank beginner to go from zero to independence on snow in less than three hours.

Is the method that I saw used by all instructors in Deer Valley Resort? Is the PSIA ahead of the French ENSA in terms of teaching methodology? I don't have the answer to either question, but I'd love to know...

Friday, January 6, 2012

Seize the moment!

The more time flies, the more the time we've got left becomes precious. The problem is that we're never fully aware of that reality and continue spoiling the time allocated to us as it were plentiful and could last forever. If that wasn't enough, we could also throw into the equation that our bodies are aging at the same alarming pace.

So, if you wanted to trek the Himalayas in your 60s, could you afford to still do it in your 70s? The morale of that story is that day after day, we should become much more savvy and industrious in the way we burn that diminishing precious commodity that's our time. If we knew it, understood it and took it more seriously, what drastic changes would we make in our lives?
To be definitely continued...

The Good Side of Hard Snow

For those of us who’ve only known fluffy, powdery snow, this early season may bring a different experience, and while our snow-makers and groomers have worked wonders all over Deer Valley Resort, it may be difficult to fully experience these brand new “rocker skis” that some us got from Santa, until heaven dumps its next supply of bottomless powder. For one, I’m far from complaining. I’ve been more than twenty times on my skis this season and on each occasion; my actual experience has exceeded my expectations.

The added benefit of this year’s capricious weather is that the harder ski surface has forced me to pay greater attention to my technique and to the tuning of my equipment. It’s absolutely true that skiing in Utah makes all of us a little bit lazy and complacent. We lean or bank into a turn and that’s generally what it takes. Our minimalist technique often provokes sarcasm from Eastern skiers that sometimes don’t mince their words and will go as far as saying that Utahans can’t ski. Granted, New England skiers are generally speaking better technicians, as most of them have learned to get a good grip on ice and make all of the right moves that a hard snow-pack requires. In the West and particularly in the Rockies where blue ice doesn’t even exist, our compacted powder is often called “ice,” and most of us have little idea about the hard-facts of hard-snow.

Perhaps this particular moment is another great opportunity to make sure our equipment is in tip-top shape, with skis tuned right for these more exacting conditions, boots fit snugly, custom insoles updated and buckles shut tight so there is nothing that can flop around or is left to chance. Nothing that a qualified ski shop technician couldn’t do for us. From a skier’s standpoint, we’re still building up our skiing legs in this early part of the season and are often the product of a those bad habits picked here and there, all these years on our legendary bottomless powder.

Now is the perfect opportunity to spend some time learning, or reviewing, the hard facts about super solid snow. Learning what “keeping an edge” means, getting familiar with what “chattering skis” mean and what can be done about it, learning how to be brief, quick and finally getting the upper hand on that gentler cousin of “ice” that is Utah hard snow. After all, a visit to the Deer Valley Ski School might be an excellent idea to review all these important basic elements…

That’s right, a good refresher course might be all what’s needed, because as we all know, great skiers don’t need to be told, they just have to be reminded, from time to time. I for one, have decided to focus all of my skiing efforts to becoming a real ace on our gentler version of “ice.” But don’t delay; do it now before the next snow fall spoils all these great plans!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Skiers don't limp!

Two days ago, I was back on my skis after my brush off with a big tree. I was still limping around, especially just after I got up from a sitting position or when I walked down the stairs, and was still a bit apprehensive. Further, I still can't run. After picking an easy run to test that the main systems were still running and were fully operational, I was surprised that nothing happened.

In fact, I skied the whole afternoon and my only problem was getting up when unloading the chair. While skiing I forgot that I had recently been injured and no one on the slopes could detect any limp. I didn't know skiing was such a wonderful therapy!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Between the rock and the hard place

Only a few days ago, I temporarily ran out of luck and, to my total surprise, went off-piste against my will. The path was tight (Edgard's Alley for those readers who know my playground,) filled with skiers and to passing them, had no other alternative but squeezing to the extreme right which happened to hang over a steep forested slope.

Over that particular area, the snow was soft and gave way under my skis, throwing me into a rocky ravine where I fell and was brutally stopped by a twin pine tree which dry branches almost poked my eye, scratched my goggle lens, scrapped my left wrist and my right armpit and since my left thigh was already jammed against a big rock, got pined down when my right leg ended up wedged against that massive pine tree.

My right thigh muscle got crushed, the femur painfully bruised and it took me quite a bit of time before I could recover my spirits, fight a bad nausea, get back on my feet and very, very slowly, climb out of my predicament. Once more I was very lucky. I could hardly walk, even less ski, but was whole and alive.

After that incident, I realized that piloting an aging body, just like an old clunker, might require more kindness, less speed and a much more relaxed attitude. The big competition is now over, so it might be time to take is easy and care much more for that aging frame of mine. I think I'll be wise enough to follow that precept and ski well into my sunset that should only happen many, many years from now!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The end of politics?

The three-ring circus offered to us by Republican hopefuls and the continuous gridlock and negative narrative in congress are clear signs that we might finally see the end of politics as we know them. What I mean by all this is that the political system – not so much Washington as politicians like to say – is broken.

It's corrupt, rotten from inside and can't be fixed as it stands. Its current paradigm needs to go through a drastic metamorphosis, like photography went from rolls of film into digital pictures. While I can't articulate yet the shape a new politic landscape should take, it must become in tune with our digital age, respond faster, look farther down the long-term horizon, return to true public service and leave more actual time to governance than to attending unceasing election and re-election cycles.

Am I a dreamer? I don't think so; the system is so badly shocked that it can't recover from its wounds.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Resolution? (continued...)

I've found a good, creative approach towards making a new year resolution that make sense, when nothing comes automatically to mind. This situation isn't unusual as we age, have everything we think we need and are generally satisfied with ourselves. Ask yourself about your want and needs. More or less, we all want OR need something.

When you see the answers flash into your mind, write them down, then make a selection. As always, the shorter the list the better, and personally, I'd prefer go with just one single resolution that I can attain.

I have already framed what mine will be and it's just a matter of days between my yearly goal is set in... stone!

Sunday, January 1, 2012


Nope. I haven't yet set my new year resolution yet, and while I should have, I tend to rationalize that it's better to take my time and come up with something really good that I have a chance to reach, rather than making a quick list of good wishes I'd like to adorn my life in 2012, and soon forget or get discouraged about it.
I need some time for that something important that I want, need and is worth reaching this year. Just give me the entire week to come up with something!