Thursday, October 31, 2013

Life and its rhythms...

Some days are slow, with little happening, while other days are simply crazy, with tons of unforeseen events and a frenzied emotional roller-coaster ride.
Yet, the art of living is to always make the best of these vastly varying situations by never panicking or getting bored, by being either patient or planning wisely, and - at the opposite end of the spectrum - by making swift choices and setting the right priorities.

A process helped more by a deep life experience than by sheer natural talent!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Folks who can't take notes...

On a daily basis, I'm confronted with business people who run complex projects and yet seem totally incapable of taking notes. So what happens is no surprise, things fall constantly through the cracks, deadlines are missed and huge mistakes are made.

Their smart phone can't do it all and unless people make the effort to write things down (even on their electronic devices) they can't effectively manage their day-to-day activities.

The French are a bit anal-retentive when it comes to taking notes, but right there is probably one of them best managerial skills!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Building the hard way...

There are situations in life that demand more stamina and more determination than others. Sometimes when it rains, it pours, and yet, life must go on. So we regroup, restore our faith into what we're doing, resolve the immediate problem, fix the infrastructure, change the systems, take some chances and go on.

Most importantly, each hurdle teaches us a valuable lesson. And because this teaching is laden with emotion, it makes a lasting imprint deep into our memories. This is not just what happen when we're building “things”, but also whenever we keep running onto stumbling blocks in the course of our daily lives.

If it doesn't kill us, it makes us stronger and we simply have to carry on!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Building the easy way...

Yesterday, my grandson and I played home-builders for a while with a back-hoe and pretended we were digging some foundations. All went very smoothly.

No problem, no cost over-run and absolutely no delay, just fantastic houses!

We should really start a building company the two of us. We both would be in charge and everything would run smoothly. After all business success is all about getting along and having a smart team.

Let's begin tomorrow.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Ligety and the Frenchmen...

The more things change, the more they stay the same and Ted Ligety seemed to prove that, again, today in Sölden.

His victory was complete and while the French were formidable in their group performance, this opener might set the stage for a season when the podium is mostly populated by Hirscher, Pinturault and Ligety. Way to go Park City's Ted Ligety, and “vive la France!”

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Dealing with the Devil?

Another crazy idea of mine. Imagine a Shaman that can make almost anything happen for you; like cure you of your chronic back-pain, make you a scratch golf player, give you financial independence or get love from someone you're secretly desiring, etc.

All of that is part of our imaginary world, but let's say for a second that with the right Craft, it's become possible, only with just one caveat: You've got to give up some time on this earth.

The Shaman would know and tell you something like “To become an incredible powder skier, this would cost you two years out of your total life expectancy...” or, "...getting that extra week of vacation might only cost you six month," etc.

The question of the day is would you do it? Also, would you do it more than once? Would you stay away from that bargain with the Devil or plunge into that spooky deal mindlessly?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Alexis Saudan, 1932–2013

Alexis Saudan, 1933–2013 The former Ski Professor at Chamonix ENSA, passed away on October 23, 2013, stricken by cancer. My heartfelt condolences to his daughter and to Monique Boyelle. I'm glad I spoke with him, on the phone, on September 30 and that my good friends Gérard Bouvier and Léon Empereur made the trip to say a final goodbye to Alexis less than 10 days before his departure.

 He was a calm, soft-spoken and steady individual, just what it took for the game of golf that he adored during his retirement from skiing.

Back in 1971, Alexis gave me a chance to join his ski instructors team in Australia for two winter seasons, down-under. This opportunities opened many door to me and had a huge influence on what I've done during my career and who I am today. Thank you Alexis!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Super-bugs, Aids and the like...

We saw a scary show on super-bugs that are invading our hospitals, are drug-resistant and will end up killing us all.

While these frightening realities need to be maintained in healthy perspective, based on the shear number of people hospitalized on any given day, it certainly is in my opinion - just like for the Aids epidemics - a reactive way for nature to get rid of some of these extra people that are overcrowding the planet.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Are we checking internet “facts” as we should?

There's rarely a day that goes by without my getting some ideologically oriented emails mixing claims of all kinds with opinions and presented in such a way that it's always easy to take for reliable hard facts.

I just got one yesterday that was a comparison about the US budget and a normal person's financial affairs. While they were some good points made about it, it couldn't quite stand up close scrutiny for accuracy and even relevance. I will always try to think twice before passing on information that looks good but isn't really true!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Will technology take us down?

I'm just thinking that technology in the hands of non-techies might very well bring that world to an end.

That's what I think, when I see how disengaged from reality people are when they're stuck to their smart phones, looking for clues, when reality with all of its problems and things to fix stare them right in their face and yet they failed to see the obvious as they're mesmerized by their devices...

Monday, October 21, 2013

Killy and Putin

The first time I heard about Jean-Claude Killy was during the French ski championships that took place in Morzine, France, in 1961. Since then, after Killy became world champion in Portillo before his historical medal sweep in Grenoble, he simply became my hero and my role-model.

I worked briefly with him while I was associated with Look bindings and Lange boots and he went on to do greater and even better things in the sport marketing field and the Olympics.

A recent interview of my hero in a French newspaper was all about the special relationship that developed between him and Putin around the Sochi Olympics, and in that interview, Jean-Claude spoke in extremely flattering terms about the Russian head of state, while conventional wisdom sees him as a ruthless dictator that, aside from his marketing-shaped image, might be worth a paltry $70 billion!

This push by Killy to make Putin holier than thou is obviously suspect and might be - among other reasons - a way to placate the $50 billions spent on the upcoming Sochi Olympics that, with little doubt, are likely to become Vladimir Putin lasting legacy...

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Perplexing GoPro

I love my helmet cam, mostly because I hardly ever tinker with it, especially with its settings. To be truthful, this little wonderful device is all but user-friendly. Today, as I was on my way out of the house to film a quick mountain-bike outing that was to be titled “Close bike encounters”, I stumbled upon the camera settings and couldn't get them going at all.

I tinkered and tinkered with them, screwed them up, and before long, I had to open up the God-awful instruction flier that I ignore like the plague to make sense out of the working principals of that tiny camcorder. I kind of got a refresher course, but before I had managed to make some sense of its settings it was too late for me to go, it was already lunch-time.

We'll do that video at some other time, I guess...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Blown away!

This happens once a year and this is the result of having around forty aspens trees on a small lot: tons and tons of leaves to rake or, I should say, to blow away!

Although there are still a few straggler leaves stuck on few trees, I climbed on the roof with my power blower to clean the gutters and I began to stack the leaves into big mounds all around our back yard. Another yearly rite of passage!

Friday, October 18, 2013

While we were away ...

... The fall colors were at their best and we've just missed their peak! To console ourselves, we knew they must have been significantly less spectacular than last year, but as we always say, there is always next fall!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Work in (good) progress!

When we returned home, we immediately went to see to our new house to check the construction progress. Everything went rather well and except from the fact that the delay kept on accumulating, good in-roads were made.

Most of the windows are now installed and the roof will be in place by the end of the month. Everything seems to almost go according to plan ...

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

It's the weather, stupid!

Upon our return, Utah welcomed us with his usual fantastic weather: dry, crisp air and blue skies. While in France they sky was continuously shrouded into thick clouds, with the exception of the day we took a boat tour in Paris over the Seine River.

We actually were very lucky that it didn't rain too much! When I get asked me why I love to live in Park City so much, I always forget to emphasize the fact that our weather is simply magical, and this, by far, is the main reason we like it so much here!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Take-away from another trip to Europe...

On the way back to America, it's always a good thing to take stock of all we've seen, learned and recalled. This trip wasn't a walk in the park either. We walked a lot in Paris and handled marathon visits of family and friends while in the Alps.

Overall, all went wonderfully well, yet I was the happiest man on earth when I touched the American soil. Nothing beats home!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Winding down our trip to France

I enjoyed visiting with my brother and sister in law today and getting to know their Parisian home. Great place, good food and excellent company. A bit of reminiscing about our life in the Alps when we were kids and the good and not so pleasant times that came with these early days.

A lot of emotions that got turned up and that sent their usual, bittersweet messages. I guess there's no way avoiding this and conjuring the past always has its share of good and painful...

Sunday, October 13, 2013

After walking Paris, some climbing!

The same folks that suggested we should walk in Paris, instead of using public transit, also suggested that we should climb stairs instead of riding elevators. This is something we did religiously, starting at the Eiffel Tower, then the towers of Notre-Dame and the Arc de Triomphe.

Each time a solid effort, followed by a rewarding point of view, not to mention the aerobic benefits. What's ironic though, is that one has to pay for climbing by their own muscular force; well, why wouldn't we do to stay fit at any cost!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Paris via surface

The few times I was in Paris always saw my travel via the stinky, subterranean “metro.” So far, this visit has been vastly different has we have stuck to the surface, literally walking the streets, following the wise advice of some good friends from the Morzine valley in France.

I've finally discovered Paris the way pigeons see it on a daily basis; in broad open-air! Much better, healthier and visually appealing. I'll think twice before I bury myself again inside the bowels of this great city. Long live Paris in the open air!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Mental fatigue at the Museum

There probably is no better place than an excellent museum to test our capacity to withstand “information overload.” This was the case today when we visited the Musée d'Orsay in Paris and I couldn't help but scrutinize everything and miss not one single bit.

The end result was total drainage of my mental capacity and of my physical abilities by shear extension. This experiment validated once more the reason why my computer heats up when I ask it to do too much within a limited time-frame!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Stay #5 in Paris

This will be my fifth long stay in Paris. I began visiting the French capital when I was 10, stayed at the famous Hotel Lutecia then. Later I spent a couple of weeks teaching skiing on the Galleries Lafayette rooftop and have fond memories of it.

My next sojourn was for one month in the spring of 1973 as a ski salesman for my friend Michel Duret who used to manufacture boards branded to his last name. Tough to sell something no one really wants. It was a baptism by fire. The last time we were in Paris for three days was in 2002.

This is stay number 5. Do I know the French capital? Not really. Do I love it? Somehow, I think it's terribly polluted and crowded. Perhaps this stay will change my mind.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Avoriaz vanguard architecture

When I still was a teenager, I was raptured by the contemporary architecture used in building Avoriaz, a brand new ski resort that sprang out of nowhere near my hometown.

While it was conceived in the mid sixties, it was inspired by the contemporary American architecture of this era. It looked radically different at the time and because of it, I kind of liked it.

Was it functional as well as good looking? Not really, the living space was restricted, to extract as many Francs as possible out of each square meter sold and the concrete construction made it all but impossible to alter the rooms as time went on.

Does it still looks good? Not really; this alas is the worst part. The wood siding looks old and in a permanent state of disrepair. Am I still infatuated with it? No, the love is definitely gone.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A note to my Senator

My senator Mike Lee is a good communicator, but as an extremist, Tea Party member, what he says is not something I like, so when he tries to explain to me how bad Obamacare is for the country, I respond along these lines:

“Your thoughts are grossly misguided. Your Tea Party and GOP colleagues are thinking in the Past, with the Past and for the Past. Your cause is a lost one and you will witness your ideology crumble and wash away, but alas, at great cost to our entire country.

I thought Senator Bennett whom you replaced was bad, but you are much worst..”

Monday, October 7, 2013

Marathon visits

It probably is my fault in attempting to fit too many appointments in too little time, but I'm simply trying to take advantage of a rare visit to my hometown. This I know is too much and a way of playing with fire and – in the end – ticking off everyone, my family, my friends and me.

Should I stay longer when I visit and see even more people, have more time and be more relaxed doing it? Perhaps, but these quantities are difficult to precisely assess and the last thing I want is more time to kill...

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Alpine weather

Our stay in the Alps isn't so lucky in terms of weather. Rain and overcast skies. Nothing else.

Thank God it hasn't been cold so far, but this reminds me about the main reason why we live where we live: A reliable wonderful climate instead of the consistent Alpine roller-coaster weather...

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Back into sound running

This morning marked my return to good serious running in my hometown where I went on to climb the steep road that leads to Avoriaz the lower tram station.
At first, I thought I'd just cover the easiest 3 plus miles round trip and avoid ascending the last leg of the course, but somehow, I kept on running and just did it. It was fun, almost effortless and super-gratifying!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Shifting back into French gear...

It's amazing how we adapt and even more how quickly we re-adapt. After a few hours in my native valley of the French Alps, it feels as if I have never left. The road recognizes me and drive my car around the curve.

I quickly re-acquaint myself with all the details that make France what it is, France! No need to learn, adjust or even make believe. That's the beauty of memory's amazing storage capabilities and staunch refusal to ever erase the tiniest detail of many years spent there...

Thursday, October 3, 2013

French productivity?

There are times when I forget why I rather live in America than in France: Effectiveness! Yesterday, as I was trying to get a SIM card for my cell phone while I'm in France. I visited the Orange store to get that done on two cell phones and it looked like lining up at a soup kitchen or some maligned DMV.

The personnel acted slow, confused and demotivated. What was more impressive was the resignation of the folks waiting, seemingly accepting a treatment that would have been normal currency during the worst days of the USSR!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

American Terrorists

Holding someone hostage to get something is not nice. It runs contrary to a civilized discussion or any business negotiation. Small kids sometimes do it. Respectable grown-ups generally don't. Any good salesman or high-level negotiator would never think of doing it either. Coward organizations like le PLO use to take hostages routinely and so did Al Qaeda...

So why in the world are a few dozen Tea Party congressmen and women doing just that at the moment? Why don't they know what the term give-and-take mean? Would any business person worth his salt ever hire someone like that in their sales and marketing team? Not a chance. Perhaps these people might get a better good job with al shabaab. This organization could use some seasoned terrorists like our Tea Party Members!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

How to lose a “friend...”

There are friends and friends; I'm not even talking about the Facebook kind that are a totally different specie. I'm thinking of real friends, the few that we value and want to keep no matter what.

Some time ago, I thought I had such a friend. Once, he asked me to procure him an American-made item. I did, and made it a gift to him. It was complicated as I had to order it, receive it at my home, ship it again to his place in Austria and fill all the custom and insurance forms.

Several years later, he asked me for the same item. I checked on the internet and found out that the company was shipping to Europe. I told him that it would be easier to order it on line and get it directly that way. I even offered to handle the transaction for him inferring that, this time, he would have to pay for it.

I subsequently lost all contact and – I guess – what I thought was his friendship.