Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New year resolution?

I'm not good with new year resolutions and last night as I stood half-awake, I was thinking that it would be great, timely and rewarding if I took up a big cause for the last third of my stay, here on earth. See it, if you will as my last hurray.

It's not really what we'd call a new year resolution, but rather an end of life commitment, a grand finale of sorts. Yeah, I know what the deal would all be about, you don't and let's leave it at that!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Phase III: Lasting

I see life as 100% that could be equated to a one hundred year living potential. In it, I see one-third for learning, another third for blossoming and performing and the last tier for enjoying and lasting. So, when all is said and done, after 66 or so, it's all about lasting.
Making sure the machine doesn't breakdown too much and let us enjoy the remaining years that are in store from us. For that later act in life, lasting or survival is, for most folks, pretty much what existence is all about.

Can there be any room left for a little more blossoming and performing? I think so, but we need to remind ourselves constantly about that dormant, but so rewarding option!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Is there a God?

It's amazing how many existential and spiritual questions a simple ski day brings to a mind. In this busy Holiday Season, when I watch skiers traffic, I can't help but believe that there's a God, up above, directing all that insane traffic.

I'm not talking about the possibility of life after death or after skiing, but simply of the wonderment that comes from observing these little ants sliding down the hill and, just like micro-puppets, connected to the invisible network of nylon wires held up by the Grand Puppeteer...

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Afternoon skiing

I already know that I am not quite a conformist and this trait of mine extends of course to my skiing. I am one of these rare birds that will go skiing late in the afternoon.

Today for example, that also happens to be one of the busiest of the year on the slopes, I dressed up as a skier a 1:43 pm, drove to the ski area found one single spot to park my car, and at 2 pm was riding up the chair.
I skied until 3:43 pm, escape the heavy traffic through my usual shortcuts and was home at 4 pm. I had skied 11,664 vertical feet and didn't suffer any crowds. Pretty slick isn't it?

Friday, December 27, 2013

The art of surviving

For most of his life, my brother has been fighting one handicap upon another and most recently his predicament has turned into surviving one ailment upon another.

Against all odds, he did quite well for himself and his family and today, having one of the wost health situation anyone could dread, he's still rolling with the punches and excelling at what it does best, surviving.
In fact, no matter how dreadful the situation presented to him is, he always appears capable of surmounting it and carrying on. There are many sorts of heroes in life, but by my book, my own brother stands at the very top of the category and will never stop to baffle me!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Shooting (good) ski video

After trying the helmet mount for too long, I've finally come to the unmistakable conclusion that using a chest mount is by far the most stable way to shoot ski videos.

There's perhaps one caveat in the fact that the skier's arms get a little in the way, but there are obviously ways around that if the skier is skilled enough.

The helmet isn't secured enough around the head, plus this one bobs and turns just when you don't want it and the mere inertia of the camera weight makes it always worse. Case closed!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Early season snow...

In this era of instant response and universal availability of almost everything under the sun, it's hard for skiers to realize, let alone accept, that snow isn't always available in huge quantity, early in the season.
Yet, when I look back upon six decades of personal skiing experience, I can attest to the fact, that whether in the Alps or in the Rockies, snow isn't always falling “en masse” that early in the season. There's a very important ingredient that is needed and that is call “patience” that all devoted skiers must muster.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Early season, gnarly runs

A few days ago, always as curious as I tend to be, I ventured into “Son of Rattler” a passage in the woods and into a creek bed that I have skied many times at Deer Valley. Even if this was the last day of Fall (Yeah, December 20, who's ever heard of “Fall skiing”?) the snow cover was thin and thinner yet in the woods as the surrounding trees were still hoarding tons of snow to themselves and not letting it down onto the ground.

At the opening clearing, on top of the run, all was good and smooth, but as soon as the forest canopy closed in, rocks, stumps and obstacle of all shapes, forms and origin reared their ugly heads, slowed me down, and made me loo twice where I was going. My take-away from that experience is that tree skiing should always be left for latter in the season.

Being precocious with that forms of skiing rarely yields good dividends!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Elks Crossing

A large herd of elks winters just above our neighborhood and when I run early in the morning, I often see them as the retreat to the top of Quarry Mountain, the hill that overlooks the Park Meadows area of Park City.

These hungry elks go down to the golf course and with the thin, early winter snow, still manage to find a few blades of green grass for breakfast.... Who could blame them; everyone has to eat!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Should Ligety refocus on GS?

This season, Ted Ligety saw an opportunity in capitalizing on his win in Super G as last year's world championships as an opportunity to aim for the overall World Cup title and a repeat performance in Sochi for 3 Olympic medals.

Yet, by spreading himself a little bit too thin, he's been somewhat “blinking” and his GS supremacy stands now in question. Granted, he's the one everyone is after, but by trying to do too much with such talented rivals like Hirscher and Pinturault, he has taken his keen eye off the ball.

A strong refocusing on GS might be a timely idea, after all...

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Before you shoot: Have a plan!

Before you shoot any video, think it through before starting to create your material. Just see the story, if not in your mind's eye, at least down on paper.

I should know better, but I always forget and spend too much time improvising, starting from scratch, scrambling, making up and patching up. A tiny bit of planning always goes a long way!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Why I won't go to Sochi...

Even after Mr. Putin is pardoning everyone left and right, I'm still not going to Sochi. First, I don't have any business there, but even if I did and was an athlete worthy of the trip to Russia, I don't think I would go.

These incredibly expensive games have been highjacked by the ex-KGB oligarch and even is all look good on paper, I sense trouble with the events and don't think it would be wise to go...

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The sleazy face of real estate...

I recently went through another real estate transaction and it confirmed to me, once more, that something is utterly rotten in that industry.

Not only is the six percent commission excessive, especially when we compare it to the low cost of closing, at least in Utah, that stands at less than half a point, but in the last throes of the negotiation, when we asked both realtors to lower their commissions a measly two-third of a point, they found no better way than ask the other party to absorb most of it.

It left me with the solid impression that all realtors do it solely for their commission, and absolutely not to help other people. I long for the day when someone smart Alec will find a crack in the system and successfully challenges the cartel-like structure of the association of realtors all the way to the Supreme Court.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Is shame outmoded?

In my youth and culture, shame played an important role in regulating behavior. Over the years, this social element has lost most of its bite, to the point that nowadays it has virtually vanished from our lives.

Granted, promoting a healthy self-image among our youth has probably led to the slippage of that virtuous demeanor, but I suspect that it has also given society a free-pass about getting rid of what might appeared to have become an outmoded sentiment.

Liberal acceptance and continuous forgiveness have eradicated that feeling once and for all. Makes me want to say: "What a shame!"

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The power of persuasion

Many times, when we think about selling, we think about building rapport, saying the right words, asking pointed questions and using techniques like mirroring and the like. Too often, we don't even think of the most fundamental sales function that is to convince.
That's right, the act of convincing is something that demands that we plant ourselves right in the midst of the soul of the person we want to win. It means that we must first identify, then understand the individual main concern and speak to it in terms capable of literally turning that human being around.

More on that crucial subject later, and of course, easier said than done!

Monday, December 16, 2013

The dark side of Facebook

Social media isn't so great as it often appeals to many negative traits that most of us – humans – embody. Vanity and jealousy are some of them and are possibly worst offenders.
Just like for emails, there should be a (voluntary) code of conduct that would suggest that only interesting topics can be brought forward, but “selfies” and pictures of Tahiti where we might happen be when our brothers and sisters are stuck in some sh... hole should be definitely off-limit. Do you agree?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A job in North Korea?

It's not everyday that you get a letter from Kim Jong-un, the supreme Leader of North Korea. As a matter of fact, I got one last week. Kim Jong-un is offering me a job as director of his new Masik Pass Ski Resort that should open any time now.

This is going to be a cool place with 70 miles of ski runs catering to all ability levels, with a hotel, heliport and plenty of ski lifts. Kim also told me that it will be a great job, that might open up many doors for me in the near future. He said: “In two years, you can ascend to being the Number Two man in North Korea.

The bad news is that my wife doesn't like the idea, she has a funny feeling, and tends to be negative about Mr. Kim. She says she doesn't trust the man, that she's unsure of my future with him, which strikes me as being a bit unfair. I hope she turns around, because I would hate to lose such a great last career opportunity before I retire for good!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

How Ligety finds his limitation

Up until today, Ted Ligety has dominated the field in GS competition. The question was how much more margin of superiority could he gain? Well, today, on a both steep and icy Val d'Isère run, he found out quickly when his extreme angulation suddenly became too much as ended up edging on his boots. We generally find the upper limit by an occasional failure and that's how we keep on becoming even better. Easy for me to say, right?

Friday, December 13, 2013

The complexity of technology

Learning technology techniques takes time and willingness to learn. Both commitments are essential to acquiring knowledge and we need to jump with both feet into the process, or if we do it half-hardheartedly, if will cost us even more in wasted time and frustration.
I learned even more about this principle this week as I was learning about subjects as diverse as streaming video capture and fixing a two-way electrical switch. While I succeeded at the former, I still have some work to do on the later, but I remain hopeful and convinced that it can be done. Thank you, determination!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Future Ligetys in training?

Long before down Park City's Payday ski run is illuminated to allow our youngsters to train and – who knows – step into Ted Ligety's ski boots some day.
Question is, will there even be a replacement? Well, the odds aren't so good as exceptional skiers like Ted are not created, they are born through superior and unwavering passion for the sport. They only come once in a long while and we ought to enjoy them while they shine.

They can't be manufactured or reproduced at will. This is what uniqueness is all about!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Costly choice of words...

Back in November, a Park City mayoral candidate ran on the slogan “Park City, Planet, Profit, People” which was a take on the popular triple bottom line (TBL) approach that takes into account social and environmental performance in addition to financial performance.

This was created in 1981 by John Elkington,. The problem with that formula, when it's moved out of a strict business context, is that “Profit” sounds a bit crass, which I told that candidate. I suggested “Prosperity”instead.

Yet, he declined, saying it was too late in the game and that he was “recycling” older campaign signs. He lost the election and proved that a poor choice of word never fails to be costly...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Negotiating: Not for the weary

Who will blink first? That is the key question in many negotiations. Usually, the party less patient, less determined, less experience and more weary. Negotiating takes lasting power and this quality falls like a rock at some later point in the process.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't all about negotiation technique, but steadfastness plays a crucial role, doesn't take secret skills, is available to us all, but remains the most determining factor in losing – or winning – a negotiated deal. Keep that in mind; don't be the first one blinking!

Monday, December 9, 2013

American nicknames...

Ever since I came to America, more than 36 years ago, I've puzzled with nicknames in this country. The usage of nicknames is much more widespread than in France and my mind was dazzled with the Teds, Neds, Kims, Dicks and other Kips that were waltzing around my astounded ears.

Today, I know what most of them mean or at least come from and by sheer solidarity have long adopted one of my own...

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Skiing with style and... without!

Yesterday World Cup GS in Beaver Creek was an awesome show mixing high-wire tricks brought to us by Alexis Pinturault and Body Miller, while Mr. Ted Ligety was winning quietly, by doing what he always does wonderfully well, skiing in the middle of his skis and controlling the ride down the hill instead of fighting it like most of his competitors.
I watched the event on Eurosport UK and the female commentator who didn't know what she was talking about was talking about the need for “attack” and “aggressiveness”. Ligety wasn't neither attacking or aggressive. He was just placing his skis into the right trajectory and following them to victory. The true essence of skiing!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The complete alpine skier

In watching the early winter races in Lake Louise and Beaver Creek, I was thinking, “where are the 'complete skiers' of yesteryear?” By complete, I meant men and women who could win slalom, giant slaloms and downhills just like Toni Sailer, Jean-Claude Killy or Annemarie Moser-Pröll.

These days, it has become much tougher to be such a “jack of all trades” because of the intense training demands With that in mind, you end up with two groups of skiers, on one hand, the “speed skiers” who do well at Downhill, Super-G and GS, and on the opposite end of the spectrum, the “technical skiers” who can handle both slalom and GS like Marcel Hirscher. Some even specialize into one single event (GS in that case) to focus their efforts, like Massimiliano Bardone, Davide Simoncelli and Cyprien Richard...

Friday, December 6, 2013

How cold can it get in Park City?

Always a hard question to answer. I remember that years ago, at the end of January 1989, we hit -39 F or something like this. Boy was it cold!

This week looks like it will be arctic too. Yesterday was -14 and today is – 11 with very little relief in sight. Then my wife asked me, how cold was it last winter? I've kept tab of weather and temperatures since 2006, so I look it up and said that it went down to -16 last January, and then began reciting the stats for the other years.

If I didn't write it down, how would I be able to tell. I have yet to find a repository of temperature history on the net...

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Acting timely and perfectly

Of the three ski resorts that Park City counts, two like to open early with limited lifts, runs and scarce snow while the other one – that stands as the standard for quality in the largest ski town of Utah – prefers to open up a little later, but do it right, with enough lifts and plenty of snow.
The resort is Deer Valley of course and its struggling rival that rush doing too little, too early remains Park City and Canyons...

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Staying unshakable

Life is a constant alternative of good and bad feelings, ups and downs, pat in the backs and slap in the face and those of us who survive that treatment without flinching are the ones that generally can go the distance and feel the best about themselves. Talk about being unshakable; what a wonderful gift!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Cherishing setbacks...

Sometimes, when events don't go the way we would like them to go, we need to turn them around by looking into them as challenges that will serve as yardsticks to our ability to cope.

Whether situations are created by our own mistakes, miscalculations or are simply bad luck, we can find a formidable source of strength in facing them head-on, measuring ourselves directly to them and looking at them as a blessing in disguise, a way of challenging ourselves.

I've been a long believer in that kind of approach, which doesn't mean that I have applied it all the time and under all circumstances, but now, in the midst of my construction hurdles, I will endeavor to take them as such, and turn each one of them into a source of strength and self-satisfaction!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Is Canyons “Epic” yet?

Yesterday was cloudy and dreary, so I set my sights to ski Canyons for the fist time this season. I wanted to see if the Epic transformation that is part and parcel of Vail Resorts' culture, had begun to positively affect the place.
In reality, little had changed, except that the employees, still dressed in their vintage “The Canyons” outfits, that were shooting at me to read my pass with their digital guns. One might see this as unfriendly, but I guess, it's technology.

As for the snow conditions, they were as limited as ever, as more man-made snow had not made its appearance yet. Sure, Vail has to pay a hefty, $25 million annual rent, so you can't have everything at once, but I feel confident that in the absence of a serious “plan B”, plan A remains the annexation of Park City Mountain Resort in the very near future. This, would really be “Epic!”

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Training for tree-skiing?

Tree-skiing is not natural; it demands plenty of guts and even more training. You might also add that good training for skiing trees requires plenty of trees, of course, a great attitude an some snow on the ground. Well, this is still early in the season, so instead of plenty of powder, there are tons of skiers on few ski runs.

Which brings us back to our subject matter: You can use all of these skiers and pretend they're tree. Like you would in the forest, you'll tree not to hit them, but to make our training session worthwhile, these pretend-trees on the slope are also... moving! Rarely does this happen with aspen or spruce trees unless it's early morning and you had too much to drink the night before.

With God's help, who's playing the ski-traffic controller, you'll get to the bottom avoiding collisions and will become a little bit more better trained for tackling real trees. With more of this routine, you'll be able to see the forest from the trees and zoom through the aspen groves!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

How forgetful can I be?

Last night, I was woken up by one of my dream. Some time ago, I had signed a lease for a commercial retail space at Canyons ski resort and had totally forgotten about that transaction.

As I happened to find myself at the ski area for opening day, someone asked why I had not opened yet my shop? I was dumbfounded, couldn't come up with a good answer... How could I have forgotten!

Friday, November 29, 2013

The wisdom (?) of low profile ski tips

Yesterday, as I was riding the chairlift, I noticed a pair of Völkl skis with a very shallow tip and thought, “I wonder how the skier can't avoid plowing in when he runs into a sudden change in terrain or a nasty bump?”
The answer to that question is that the absence of sufficiently turned up shovel makes any ski downright hazardous. A good friend of mine became quadriplegic when his flat-tip Scott ski got straight into a big bump and threw him violently forward, breaking his neck.

Of course, generously turned up skis are out of style and some could argue that the flatter the tip the less resistance to snow in powder, not to mention a reduced moment of inertia.

I won't mention the fact that it's also much easier to manufacture a flat ski than a ski with any kind of form, but as a skier who has gone too many times “over the handlebar” in a wide variety of snow and terrain conditions, I'd say, make sure there's sufficient tip turning up before you buy your next pair of ski...

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Seeing the forest from the trees

Details always end up grabbing our attention when in fact we should always be able to maintain a trained eye on the big picture, the 30,000 feet view or viewing the forest from the tree.

Yet, the searing pain of the moment, the fleeting anger or the recurring disappointment never fail to take us off course and end up upside down when their impact on our whole life picture is merely a tiny bump on the road. This is another area that takes some discipline, constant training and sharp focus to become another good habit that will help us move where we want to go.

 A deep and wide ranging sense of perspective is not a native quality that come to us, but another fundamental habit that requires forming through continued awareness and determination...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Beginning with what's less attractive

Often, like the vast majority of individuals, I gravitate towards tasks or activities that have the most appeal for me. Things I like to do over ones I dread or I have little attraction for. Chores and unpleasant matters are tossed aside and left for “later.”

This precisely is where the problem lies. We get distracted by “fun-to-do” stuff at the expense of “must-do” endeavors and we let this happen with any form of regularity, we get deep into a hole and worst of all, we constantly feel terrible.

If I have succeeded in mastering many useful management techniques, I still have my work cut out for me with that one and need to get working on it as soon as possible.

This effort alone might get me almost 99% into total peace of mind. This would truly be wonderful, and I mean it very seriously!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

More ski testing...

Sunday was the turn for my pair of Rossignol S3 “rock skis” to hit the snow in my second day on skis this season. While they're said to be “an all-mountain powder ski with an award-winning blend of versatility and float...”, the skis were a bit longer and heavier than the Salomons I tested the day before and felt more stable and a tad more maneuverable.

In fact, quite predictably, the other skis were lighter, shorter, therefore quicker and easier to move around. My take-away from this couple of tests is that buying skis at the annual ski-swap can be a wonderful deal if we know ski gear and have a clear idea of what you need.

Once more I enjoyed my couple of hours on skis and upgraded these two pairs of “rock skis” to almost “spanking brand new skis” and I will take as good care of them as I would if these boards came out of the box. Okay, what happened to my rock skis now?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Testing the $40 skis...

Saturday was ski opening day in Park City, so I patiently waited till 1:30 pm, drove to the parking lot, found a spot that had just been vacated by some early day skiers, parked my auto, walked 50 feet to the First Time lift and was on my way.

My main goal was not only to check if I still was snow-worthy, but mostly to test one of the two pair of “rock skis” that I had purchased at the Ski Swap, earlier this month. That day, I picked the cheapest of the two pairs, the Salomon XW Tornado that only cost me $40, with a pristine base and edges on which I mounted an old pair of Look bindings that have migrated from skis to skis over the last 12 years. I must say that this first day back on the boards was just perfect.

The weather was so cold that it kept the crowds away, the snow was excellent, my skiing felt as good as ever and the $40 skis exceeded my wildest expectations. Since I won't race the 2014 Hahnenkamm on these boards, but use them instead to weave myself through trees and fluffy Utah powder, they'll be just fine!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Serial Fiftieth Anniversaries (continued...)

Here's another 50th birthday story that's rather unsung, but is still as important to me. At that time, I was still living in the Alps, 5,340 miles away from Park City, and just around the corner, a new ski place was being readied for that same ski season.

The place was Avoriaz, a new ski area located over Morzine, France, the brainchild of Jean Vuarnet, one of its residents and recently minted Olympic Champion. There was a brand new tram (then dubbed "the fastest in the world"), one double chair (Les Foillis), a small poma next to it and a much longer Poma up at the very top of the mountain, in Arare.

The problem was that this was the thinnest snow season over the Alps in skiers' memory. It was when the first Innsbruck Winter Olympics were held, and at the time, the Austrian army rushed to the rescue hand-carrying 1.5 million cubic feet of snow inside buckets to the skiing venues. In Avoriaz, a rugged terrain didn't allow much skiing either until March and April of 1964, when the snow finally fell in sufficient quantity to cover most rocks.

It's precisely at that time that I skied in Avoriaz for the very first time. Boy, was I impressed! I remember dreaming of getting a job up there as a “lifty”. It's most certainly at that moment that I made a mental commitment to work up there, some day in my unspoiled future. I particularly remember the “Plan Brazy” Poma, its insane lay out with its brutal right angle turn preceding an almost vertical final climb!

With these stories in mind, you can understand why this winter season and these half-century old memories hold so much meaning for me!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Serial Fiftieth Anniversaries...

After having been under the spell of the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's assassination for weeks, it's now turn for some more joyful celebrations, but still in the same half-century category.

Opening today for the new ski season, Park City Mountain Resort continues that string of 50th celebrations that are close to my heart. Sure, I wasn't there when it opened for skiing back in 1963, but I have heard the metamorphosis of the Silver capital of Utah into the largest ski area the state (and in fact the whole North America) counts to this day.
At that time, the last surviving mining company, United Park City Mines, re-invented itself into a ski resort with the help from a federal loan meant to revive what was fast turning into another western ghost town. The $1.2 million dollars loan bought a gondola, a pair of base and summit lodges, a chairlift, a poma, and a nine-hole golf course.

The resort was called Treasure Mountain Resort. Mine company officials urged townspeople to hang on to their properties because, they they also said, "it will be valuable some day." At the time, a town lot and house were only worth about $500!

Tomorrow, I'll tell you about another 50th anniversary, still in the ski business, that's also very dear to my heart...

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thinking in circles (continued...)

After researching these concentric rings – like those of trees – I discovered that it was in fact one of many adaptations of Schneiderman’s visual representation. Ben Shneiderman is a Professor in Computer Science at the University of Maryland and is the individual credited with that graphic illustration, called circles of relationships.

It shows several concentric ovals (centering on the self) that illustrate how Trust dissipates outward. As we move away from people near to us, we trust them less. Typically there are "circles" of relationships, defined by interdependence, shared knowledge, and trust:
  • Self - Personal space (security, privacy and safety) 
  • Family and Friends (small number of people with enduring relationship, high level of trust and openness) 
  • Colleagues and Neighbors (larger group of people with frequent encounters, common interest, much lower level of trust) 
  • Citizens and Markets - Culture or Nation (less interaction, little in common) 
  • Some also suggest a fifth circle representing the hostile outer world (strangers, enemies, fear and strong suspicion.) 
This illustration has been used in all sorts of... circles (pardon the pun!) and adapted for a variety of purposes ranging from children education to urban planning or theories about social media. It can also be evolved into 3-D representation when some additional parameter needs to be part of the equation.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thinking in circles

Yesterday, totally randomly, I stumbled upon a wonderful way to visualize our relationships. It began with an article in the L.A. Times about how not to say the wrong thing to people who suffer hardship, suffering or sickness. I thought the whole approach was right on target, especially with the accompanying illustration that helped visualize the whole idea.

My take-away was that the individuals (for instance, the victim or the sufferer) in the center ring could say anything they wanted to anyone, anywhere. They could complain, whine and moan all they wanted. Sure everyone else elsewhere in the external rings could say those things too, but only to those people situated in the larger rings.

The idea was that if you were talking to a person in a ring smaller than yours, someone closer to the center of the crisis, the goal was to help, with the idea that often, listening well is more helpful than just talking. Basically, it means that if you're going to address a person in a ring smaller than the one you're in, ask yourself first if what you're about to say is likely to provide comfort and support. If it isn't, shut up!

I thought the concept was great and this lead me to dig a bit deeper into it. Tomorrow, I'll tell you what else I discovered about these circles or rings...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Reducing the dose...

Running is good for a lot of things, but probably not on the joints. So far, I've been lucky with my ankles, knees and hips, but I can't tell how long my body will be able to take that much pounding. As a result, I've decided to err on the side of prudence, save my aging body by reducing the dosage.

How much? Just a tiny bit, twenty percent or so. Will my running life be extended in the same proportion? Perhaps, but since I don't know my own longevity as a runner, what do I care? My running time will just be a tiny bit shorter, at least for the moment!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Managing inept folks...

When I ended my working career a few years ago, I was relieved to get out of managing people or “baby-sitting” them, as I used to say. I didn't know that several years later I'd find myself in the midst of the most challenging management situation I've ever encountered!

My current building project pits me against a set of characters that are woefully unrealistic, incompetent and hopeless. Yet, I have a contract with them and letting them go for non-performance wouldn't be in my very best interest, so I'm left doing the best with what I have and this takes walking a very fine line between demanding what I believe is right and not totally antagonizing the opposite party.

In four month from now, I'll be in a position to reveal the secret of my management success. Sure, I plan to win that one!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Eleven years...

That's exactly the time we've lived in our small Park City home, after spending the twelve preceding years inside a much larger dwelling. Both this home and a small one we owned for five years in Chappaqua, New York, have been our favorite residences out of six places we owned successively in France and in America.
This home is quite charming, we've put a lot of hard work into it and we simply enjoy every spent inside it. Also, it now looks pretty sure that this 12th year of ownership that begins today, could very well be the last one too. If that's the case, we'll keep fond memories of this cute house.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Internet miracle cures...

I did it again! Yesterday, a friend of mine sent me a much “recirculated” email touting some unscientific “miracle cure” and while I forewarned a few folks to whom I forwarded the wonderful tip that I had not tried it myself, I ended up with literally eggs on my face by not checking if there was any truth to the approach.

Someone suggested I did and I immediately found out that it was in fact a hoax, that the medical community had long adopted a more efficient, logical and beneficial set of recommendations. This leaves me with a new resolution: Never again will I forward a questionable story like that one without checking the facts first.

This means I'll definitely email out less junk from now on...

Saturday, November 16, 2013

How I manage my moods

When I feel that my mood is going sideways, I try to focus on the slide and watch what happens before I take any corrective action. I'm not driving on ice and can afford to take my time in order to think of a strategy.

What works for me is to imagine other people that I admire and play into my mind's eye what they would most likely do under the same circumstances. What they would do would be cool, collected and would involve the very strict minimum required, but it would keep them on track and folks standing on the sidelines like me would say: Wow!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Mood management

Whether you're a top athlete or a seasoned professional, if you're able to always have a clear mind regardless of the many bothers each instant bring to you, it's one more guarantee that you'll make it to the big leagues.

Constant mood management is probably the unsung hero of success and is so difficult to embrace that no one ever tries to tame that little monster and there's not much in terms of self-help resources. Just help yourself!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Feelings, goals and strategy

Sometimes feelings get into our lives in a big way and tend to distort everything, coloring the choices we make and changing the paths we take. Generally, the younger we are and the easier it is to fall into the trap of letting our feelings dictate our decisions.

Of course, our goals - if we've set them - should be our guiding principles and get us where we want to go with the help of a tailor-made strategy. Feelings are far less powerful in the presence of a game plan and when there is a prize for us to keep our eyes upon.
So whenever you find yourself torn with conflicting thoughts, experiences or feeling, always keep a cool head, remember what the goals are, review the strategy, tinker with the mix if you must and you should be headed into the right direction!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Keeping going...

The biggest secret of a happy, fulfilling life is to look into chores as new projects, unpleasant endeavors as challenges, frightening situations as an opportunity to measure our true mettle. If we're capable of doing that at all times, nothing is ever dreary at all.

In fact this is both my credo and my modus operandi. It's not that I never feel anxious, fearful or even depressed. I do, but I try to keep this moments short and I somehow always find the resource to rebound and remind myself of what I should do instead of just wishing or dreaming or trembling. Forward is the call to action in my life and I hope that it will stay with me until my ultimate breath.
Always solving problems, anticipating steps, being ready, present, willing and looking forward to participating into this exciting life of ours...

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Supply, demand and real estate sales

Today, in my little Park City neighborhood of Park Meadows there are 3 houses listed for sale under one million dollars and... 14 listed between 1 and 2 million dollars.

If you subscribe to the (logical) idea that there's a price pyramid in which the lower strata offer many more potential buyers than the top one, and then if you wonder why so many expensive homes don't sell, you quickly realize that our real estate market has a serious problem of inverted supply versus a normal demand!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Ski-swap: Skis as tires...

This weekend, I paid a visit to the Park City annual ski swap. This is a really huge event. My rock skis (2 pairs) are beat up and I needed to replace them. I found one pair of 186 cm Rossi, with bindings, and one pair of Salomon 180 cm (boards only) and pay less than $250 for both.

The base and the edges looked good and that's pretty much all I care for. You see, my skis are just like car tires. You may be a fan of Michelin or prefer Continental, but let's be honest, when you've been driving for a while, if the two sets of tires are of decent quality, who cares and who can really tell the difference?

That's right, we all adapt and I'm looking forward to adapting to my new rock skis. Chances are, I'll end up using them more than my “new skis” even if we get buried under the tons of snow that we're long due to receive this coming winter!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Avoriaz ski school saga

Part 6 and final installment

Following a series of discussions with the national ski instructor association, and some steady work with our attorney, a final meeting took place on December 17, 1973, at the ski-school. I couldn't attend it as I was still in Germany completing my language course.

On that occasion, a vote was taken to decide if the excluded members of the ski-school should regain their positions within the organization or start a splinter organization on their own (this wasn't a stated option, but would have been an inevitable outcome.) The vote was rather tight, but this time reason prevailed and the three excluded members regained their membership status.

Even though they belonged to the “opposite faction”, both Anselme Baud and Danielle Couttet, his wife-to-be, voted in our favor and changed things for the better. Without their votes, we'd still be in ski-limbo! Another letter was sent, advising us this time that we were back on board. What a waste of time and energy!

The ordeal was over and with it, my motivation to carry on in the job was no longer there. I began to seriously work towards a good exit strategy. In the ensuing months, I would start looking for an inside job within the ski industry and put my career of “selling turns” to a final, "hockey-style" stop.

In many ways, I look at these moments as a blessing in disguise that got me out of that seasonal activity and opened the portals of an exciting, diversified and rewarding career; a very good move that, in retrospect, I wouldn't have missed for everything. Today, this story is well behind me, the hard-feeling are long gone, all is forgiven and that's the end of the story!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Avoriaz ski school saga

Part 5 

The letter written the day before was mailed to me, just forty years ago, on November 9, 1973. It was letting me know that I was kicked out of the Avoriaz ski school, for no apparent reason. I have never been fired from a job, except in this instance. Further, as a ski-school member, I was an independent contractor and the organization was set up as a limited partnership, with the elected director acting as a general partner. 
Nothing in the by-laws allowed Mr. Pernet to fire me unilaterally, arbitrarily, without warning and hearing as he did. I was also not the only one let go. My soon to be brother-in-law, Xavier Guiot and Henri Marullaz also received the same letter. To this day, I still wonder what went into Claude Pernet's brain when he mailed these letters? Probably not much good, because it took a great deal of cowardness and mean spirit to compose these notices and mail them out.

My memory remains pretty vague on this entire episode. Today, I still can't remember how I felt exactly. I might have thought that the move was so egregious that we would easily wiggle our way out of that situation and regain our standing in the ski-school. I certainly don't remember being worried. I might have already left for Tübingen, Germany, when the letter reached my home, and for a while, ignorance must have been pure bliss!

If I wasn't overly concerned, I was simply as mad as hell!

To be continued...

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Avoriaz ski school saga

Part 4 

I really don't clearly remember the details of the 1972-1973 winter season, perhaps because it was so dreary that my memory didn't care to hold them long enough. The only bright news was that I had been named the French Demo Team, trained with it, and went to Sweden in December. This, if anything, re-inforced my status inside the ski-school.

At any rate, I got to the spring season totally exhausted, both physically and mentally. I had originally planned to return to Mt. Buller in Australia and switch from the French to the Austrian ski school but was so down that I finally decided to stay in the Alps.

Instead, I first went to Paris to sell Duret skis for a month (instead of “selling” it was mostly visiting potential dealers.) I didn't sell one single pair of ski, but still learned a lot and discovered that part of my future might lay in the hard-goods side of the ski industry.

Then, in June, I decided to travel to Grainau, Bavaria, to learn German. I got a job in that picturesque summer resort as a waiter but didn't have the fortitude to stay and I returned to France to help my brother at his retail store. Early September, we had a new executive committee in which we felt that the process was rigged. We protested. On September 27, 1973, we attended a hearing at the ski instruction association's headquarters in Grenoble, in an attempt to resolve the dispute, but nothing came out of it. A few weeks later, on October 11, I finally threw in the towel and resigned from the executive committee.

Tensions continued to escalate inside the ski school and while I can no longer remember the details, I decided to return to southern Germany in the fall to take a six-week language course and learn German. All my off-winter projects began to form ideas in my mind that would eventually ease me out of instructing.

To be continued...

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Avoriaz ski school saga

Part 3

The June 3rd election turned the tables and with some subtle changes in voters' elligibility, paved the way to another slim victory by the Edmond Denis supporters.  That time, Claude Pernet was elected at the helm of the ski school with Jacques Simon becoming the technical director. I remained as a member of the executive committee. We forcefully protested the election procedure and the results that were forced onto us, but the ski instructor association wouldn't hear any of it.

On Saturday, August 12, 1972, as I was instructing skiing for yet another ski season down under, I received a telegram advising me of the death of Dominique Mollaret, our short-lived ski school director. It happened on the Italian side of the Mont-Blanc while he was repelling solo on the North Face of l'Aiguille de Peuterey. This news shocked me, both because I knew Dominique and also because we had just lost a hard-won leader.

When I returned home in October, it was upheaval all over again, with even more boiled up anger on all sides. When I returned, we retained an attorney and on October 17, 1972, sent a letter to the ski instruction association, protesting officially was were to us the "rigged" election results in St. Gervais.

From that point forward, I could only envision some massive retribution, but still kept on fighting as a member of the executive committee. Subconsciously, I saw the writing on the wall and understood that my ski instructor career might come to an end sooner than later. For the first time in my entire life, I began to mentally draft a plan for the rest of my life.

I kept on working like a dog, hoisting myself as the number two producer in the school, continued to play hard and juggle with my minority leadership role and hatred for politics. Another bitter winter that was portend of worst things to come...

To be continued...