Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A great way to finish off 2014!

Today has been quite an exciting day. First, early morning, some workers came to fix a detail involving our kitchen hood. As always, that job was more elaborate than first thought and took the whole morning and involved getting into the attic and swimming into a sea of blown in fiberglass insulation.

Then with a -16F weather outside, one pipe froze, and one thing leading to the other, I turned off the hot water heater and couldn't restart it.

As the year came to an end, these two later problems remained unsolved with the contractor who just did the job unable and unwilling to fix them on New Year's eve and the following day!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

What's on my radar for 2015?

To keep going, stay intensely alive and enjoy life to its fullest, we all need a cause, a project, a passion. This is my overwhelming preoccupation these days.

It's not that I have too much time to pull a rabbit out of my hat with what's left of 2014, so I remain very much receptive to ideas and other forms of inspiration, but to this moment, I haven't found anything that stops me on my track and gets my full attention.

Do I need suggestions from the outside world? Not really; it's just from the inside me that the idea must spring off. So, what counts is that I'm aware of that need for a big idea, a great cause, so let it not be a mere matter of days, but rather the quality of the whole idea and if it truly is what I need, espouse it in a big way!

Monday, December 29, 2014

The richer, fuller, older life

Once we've reached our late sixties, birthdays take a much different meaning and might not feel as pleasant and welcome as they used to be, but in reality, we are extremely lucky to live in this day and age compared to our elders.

We're surrounded by incredible comfort, convenience, information and plenty of good one, if we just make the effort to look for it, we are stimulated to stay in shape, we have the tools, the standard of living and a much greater social acceptance to continue doing things that once were reserved to younger, active folks.

Besides, we are incredibly wiser and that alone is worth a myriad of wrinkles and lots of white hair while it still hangs out. Barring a debilitating disease or condition, we have the keys to enjoying our golden years and make them fun and productive.

We're so rich and so lucky that we have no choice, but get up in a morning and look forward to filling another day with achievements of all kinds, quality execution and personal satisfaction in mind. Now, happy birthday to whoever adds a notch to their walking stick on the beautiful journey of life!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Where are you from?

Yesterday morning, as I was quietly slipping from the parking lot into the Deer Valley shuttle, one of the passenger made a comment about the cold (only 5 degrees F) and I had the misfortune to respond by saying something inconsequential.

Picking up on my foreign accent, a lady sitting in front of me asked quite inquisitively: “Where are you from?” In a New York second, I thought on my feet and responded: “Straight from the North Pole, and I must say that the Arctic is much warmer than here!”
My response shut her off and it was total silence for the remaining minute of ride left. You see, I'm just getting tired of having to respond to that question, especially when its triggered by my French accent and by sheer curiosity. There is not one hour in any ski day when I'm riding a chair and someone isn't asking me about my country of origin.

I'm now just sick and tired of it!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Lasting longer on skis

I sincerely think my most powerful and carefree ski days are behind me, but I still love to ski fast, get on challenging terrain and having tons of fun on my two boards.

Now, how do I make that joy last as I'm growing older and as my frame can't take all the punishment that come with encountering nasty bumps, taking punishing falls and cruising fast down some high-risk terrain?
The answer seems pretty obvious: Tune down the excitement, slow down enough and do a bit less of everything. Simply put, turn the dial down as time advances.

The idea is to make that wonderful fun last just a bit longer and stay away from the temptation of stupid and reckless moves.

Leave these to the 25 and younger crowd. Subconsciously, I know all of that, but writing it down helps me sinking-in that survivalist philosophy!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Twenty Years ago: The end of Pre

My last ski-equipment job was with Pre skis, and exactly 20 years ago this week, just in time for my birthday, I was told by Richard Rodstein, then K2's CEO, that the Seattle ski firm was finally pulling the plug on Pre Ski to fully focus on their (now defunct) Pro-Flex mountain-bikes and K2 in-line skates.

While the news felt like classic back-stabbing to me, this lousy business decision was actually a godsend that brought me opportunities I would never have imagined. That's right, you win some, you lose some and what goes around, comes around.

Today, I know that the select group of smart guys that engineered this fateful decision are probably worse off than they ever could imagine and I sincerely feel sorry for them.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Does Jesus ski?

After all why not? Could be Mike Smith, could be Jessica Goldberg, why not Jesus Rodriguez after all? This is the bumper sticker I need for my car and to finally state the obvious. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Best ski day of the season!

One of my favorite ski run opened up today and I was among the few skiers who made first track on Thaynes on a wind swept snow that was dense, fast and challenging to ski.

It was super fun and after just 11 laps, when everything was tracked I returned home fulfilled.

Day #25 was also the best of the season.

Enough said.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Too early to be smooth...

Son of Rattler is one of these wild runs at Deer Valley Resort. I like these schezophrenic runs a lot, because the litterally take me out of my comfort zone. Sure, skiing early in the season descent fraught with all kinds of surprises, especially when the snow cover is as light as it is this season.

The snow was highly unpredictable, windblown and breaking and turning the boards was uncertain, hard work. They were multiple stops, long moments of pauses and hesitations, but I managed to get down without falling, killing any forest animal or hitting a bad rock or a nasty stump.
This kind of run is definitely not recommended for all public, even with parental guidance, because the mere idea of accompanying any one in these woods is deeply flawed.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Rare snow at Canyons

Interesting ski day: Too much wind (50 mph) and none of the top Deer Valley lifts can operate. So I just take a few runs there and decide to drive to Canyons to see what's going. Similar scene there.

The wind forced their base chairlift to shut down and only the gondola seems opened. I ride in, but must take my gear with me to minimize swinging. I get to the town and can only see a swarm around the two chairlits open.
I ski down to an access-restricted “shortcut” lift, ski down Doc which is a true ice skating rink, making for some interesting skiing. So interesting in fact that arrived at the bottom, I repeat the two-lift shuttle and finding the routine a tad to complicated. I had a great time, but return home...

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Here comes winter!

We tend to forget that one season only lasts three month. For us, in the mountains, this feels quite differently as winter sets in in November and leaves us in May. So, winter means a good five or six months instead of just three!

This said, while this winter season's start has been a disappointment for most Utah skiers, I have never been skiing as much with so little snow. Today will be day #22 and with snow falling this time, this should be a grand day.

Yes, you're late, but welcome home, winter!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Weather forecast and me

We all have some mental fixations, and weather forecast is one of mine. Of course, the availability of fresh snow is a chief top concern for me during the entire winter season and to feel more secure, I scrutinize more than just one weather station. I generally tend to prefer the one that predicts what I want to hear and that's the one I will adopt.
I understand satellite photos as if my livelihood depended on them (it still does, to a certain degree) and I always suppress my expectations, permanently hoping for a terrific surprise but, most of the time, processing a lot of disappointment!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Sony, North Korea and the Chinese

The recent hacking into Sony seem to come from North Korea. You may ask yourself: “Are these folks sophisticated enough to achieve that?”

The answer to that question may rest on the probability that Pyongyang may have turned to their allied and master-hackers from China to do the dirty job.

After all, Xi Jinping is just a larger version of Kim Jong-un, who wouldn't appreciate a similar comedy produced about himself and his regime; besides, there is no love lost for Sony, the Japanese!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Whatever happened to Fidel?

I never was a fan of Fidel Castro, but in recent years, I liked him a tad better because he had traded his trademark military fatigue for a collection of Adidas training suits. I never saw him wearing Nike garments and I can easily understand why.

My point is that when some rapprochement is taking place between Cuba and the USA, we'll miss not seeing the legendary revolutionary. So my mind is racing, almost out of control. I'm asking myself: “Is Fidel dead?” Has he been stored inside some refrigerated storage chamber or has someone performed taxidermy on the old soldier?

These are not far-fetched assumptions as the same situation had befallen Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko before, who both died on the job at the helm of the Soviet Union. Sure, Fidel could have a debilitating illness and be taken off the view of his people.

I still believe though that he is gone and that his little brother is scrambling to find a way to explain his disappearance to his constituents. Well, he can always blame Putin!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The solution against terrorism and extremism

We get so focused by the massacres perpetrated by groups like the Taliban or Isis that we lose the good common sense to starve these organization by cutting their financing and their supply of weapons.

When compared to “fighting” them the traditional and ultra-expensive way, it would seem that spying, hacking, tricking their financial channels and using advanced technology should go a long way into chocking these groups to extinction.
The reason I assert this is simply because our own NSA is so capable of incredible, evil and illegal feats against its own people, that we certainly have the resources available to do it. We only lack the common sense and the will to implement it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The war on fear

What is the worst world curse? Nuclear annihilation? Terrorism? Probably not. I think it's fear, non-necessary fear unlike the one that protects us from jumping off a cliff without a parachute or a jet-pack strapped on us.

It's the fear that tells us we aren't good enough, we should keep our rank, we don't have the right answer or we aren't smart, strong, or trained enough to make it.

It's the fear that's between our two ears and keeps us down, silent and inactive.

It's never too late to declare war on fear, because if we do, there will be more light, more fun and more positive action in our lives and all around us!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Seventeen is better than zero!

The day before yesterday, I ran into some neighbors and I asked them if they had skied yet. They said “No, we're waiting for the conditions to improve...” I responded, “I have skied 16 times already (yesterday was #17) and if things don't improve, sixteen is definitely better than zero!”
Will it ever snow again? I don't know for sure, but what I'm certain of is that I've skied enough to amortize my season pass and skied more than picky skiers ever do. If you've read so far, you'll agree with me that one bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.

So, please, don't delay, go skiing now, as if it was your last day on this planet!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Racism in America

We've observed racism at work during the entire Obama presidency, so why should we pretend to be shocked that the curse still thrives in America today?

What will it take to eradicate it? Generations (yes, plural) and, most importantly, the current white majority becoming a clear minority – Something like no more than 40 percent. So give the process at least another good half century...

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Television, time, sports and me

When it comes to sports, I'm a terrible spectator.

I will watch a few events (mostly ski) during the winter and summer Olympics, part of a golf tournament in April when my eyes are beginning to be tired of just seeing snow around, and a few ski races when they can be seen at some decent times in the day, namely when they happen in North America or in the European evening. In fact,

I am quite grateful that I live in Utah, because I don't have to watch all these addictive ski races. It's too time consuming and I rather do the sport than watch it and waste my precious time in the process...

Friday, December 12, 2014

Thoughts about Holiday message

Traditionally, I produce a Holiday video that I send to friends and family to mark the end of one year and the beginning of another.

To date, I don't know what it will be and, if not a video, what form it might take and was message might be included. I don't want it to boast, I'd rather make the piece short and fun.

Most importantly, I'd like create something that is heartwarming and makes everyone who sees it feel good. Worst case scenario, there will be nothing! So with that warning in mind, stay tuned...

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Why endure future pain now?

I've written a lot about the uselessness of worry and while I'm sold on the idea, I still worry about certain things upon which I have absolutely no control and that might or might not happen. A total waste of my time, thinking and energy.

Then there is that nagging worry about events that will happen for sure, like the end of the world, death, snowy, rainy and sunny days. These things, big and small, will happen for sure and for the vast majority of them too, there's strictly nothing I can do.

Yet, they grind me, grab my focus and establish their unwanted and polluting presence inside my mind. I hate this so much that today, I've decided to chase these useless demons from my mind and attempt to focus solely on the here and now and these millions of elements, big and small, I can still control and change.

Why haven't I thought about this a long time ago?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Where's innovation in the ski biz?

If there's an industry in which innovation isn't exactly the modus operandi, it's the ski industry. Marketing 101 teaches us that the art of that skill is to address problems and make everything easier, when possible.

True, skis have undergone some positive evolution, but what about ski boots, the elephant in the room. Is getting in and out of ski boots easy? Is walking in them easy? Absolutely not.

Has someone attempted to do anything about it? Partially, but with little if no success. Hanson invented the rear-entry boot and Salomon kept on improving it until it was voted down by a small but vociferous clique of industry insiders.

Look bindings, through a tenuous alliance with Nordica designed the Integral boot-binding system that was chocked by the Look's bankruptcy and Nordica's lack of interest. Bottom line, there's plenty of room for improvement, so where are the innovators hiding?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Park City to become the largest US ski resort...

Yesterday, Vail Resorts announced that it will connect the two resorts it now owns in Park City for the 2015-2016 winter, and merge them under one name “Park City Mountain Resort” as part of a $50 million worth of upgrades.

This will create the largest ski area in the U.S.A. with more than 7,300 acres of skiable terrain and bring it very close to Whistler-Blackcomb's 8,171 acres, still the largest resort in North America. Should Deer Valley decide to connect with the greater Park City and participate in a common ticket, this would push the entire Park City ski terrain well above Whistler-Blackcomb with 9,326 acres.

Even a (possible) connection with tiny Brighton Ski Resort would also surpass the British Columbia giant with 8,350 acres, but – once again – I'm getting ahead of myself!

Monday, December 8, 2014

A tough race

While I enjoy watching the downhill, what I like most in Beaver Creek is the GS event. It's perhaps because Ligety manages to win most of the time? At any rate, and even though this wasn't largely reported in the media, the snow conditions, towards the end of the second run were quite challenging and made winning the whole contest that much more difficult.
The snow looked soft and the deteriorating course was slowing down the best in the last third. Ligety had to pull a super-human feat to regain control of the situation and climb on top of the podium. Another wonderful race by my Park City hero, Pinturault and Hischer, the other “usual suspects...”

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Deer Valley Resort ski opening day

I haven't shot and edited a great many videos lately and was a bit apprehensive yesterday when I went about to film the opening day at Deer Valley. My fears were unwarranted, I got the footage I wanted and ended up with a pretty good piece. By now, I should know that I don't need fear in my life.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The 25 year old present

As it always happened, I ran into an old associate of mind on Deer Valley Resort opening day. This one was a former sales representative of mine when I was the Koflach distributor in the United States.

He was then a good salesman, and still is I guess, since he's still in the game and has no intention to retire any time soon. I had organized a contest to push our sales and had won it with another rep. Their prize was a Rolex watch and he showed me that he was still wearing it and everyday was still thinking positively about his experience with me.

Thank you Tom!

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Ikos assembly game

Remember the Rubik's cube? My next door neighbor just developed and began to market Ikos,  an assembly game that is reminiscent of the Rubik cube, albeit simpler and of spherical shape instead of a cube.

The concept that originally was that of collapsible water tank evolved into a toy, but will that be able to capitalize on the design originality?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

What's a grand Jury?

Following all the recent, racially-tainted police incidents, a vast majority of people doesn't even know what a grand jury is, so today, I'll attempt to fill this gap and share my feelings about it. A grand jury is used to investigate potential criminal conduct, determine if criminal charges are appropriate and performs both accusatory and investigatory functions.

Technically, it's meant to screen out incompetent or malicious prosecutions. Interestingly, the United States is the only country that still uses grand juries and only half of the states actually use them. As it can be composed to up to 23 citizens, it gets its “grand jury” name from the fact that it's larger than the 12 people usually found in a traditional jury.

One of the biggest problem with grand juries is that jurors are not a representative sampling of the community and are not necessarily qualified to understand what's expected of them. Further, unlike potential jurors in regular trials, grand jurors are not screened for bias or other improper factors. Finally, grand jury proceedings are held secret; no judge is present; only a prosecutor leads the proceedings and the defendant has no right to present his case.

All of the above doesn't sound quite right to me and might suggest an urgent review of the practice leading perhaps to its abolition. At least, that's my two-cent...

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Testing skiers' patience...

It's almost a routine; early in the season, skiers are all glued to the skies and the weather forecast in an attempt to reassure themselves about the next snowfall. We all would love to get 3 feet of snow early in November, but winter and snow cover are, more often than not, a slow and gradual process as it's not rare to see marginal skiing for Christmas and even early January.
To a large degree, snow making is masking this reality, but snow cover, like the rest of our daily lives, is not a guaranteed commodity. As I continue to make my living from the ski business, I know the uncertainty, the anguish and the constant worry about getting or not getting snow at the right moment. Would I have it any other way? I don't think so; it wouldn't be fun.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Another ski contraption...

Yesterday, as I was talking to my brother in France, he mentioned that his 2 year old grand daughter would soon hit the slopes using a device I never heard of, called the Babysnow, a modified monoski equipped with a handlebar for a toddler to hang on, while the whole is guided by a parent or an instructor holding handles similar to that of a baby-carriage.

The individual who controls the toddler can then bank the board to the right or the left and make it carve a turn while the baby enjoys the ride and gets use to a motion similar to that of sliding on snow. On the way uphill, adult and toddler can either use a magic carpet or a Poma-lift, but riding a chairlift isn't an option. In addition to alpine skiing, this device could be used while cross-country skiing and walking on snow either by foot or with snow-shoes.

Invented by Eric Arnold, a French ski instructor, this unique product seems to lack the necessary funding, might have remained too close to its creator and doesn't have the marketing support it needs to optimize its distribution and its development. While the concept has some definite potential, it still seems overly complicated, and in addition to some clever marketing, it could also use a substantial amount R&D to make it more user-friendly and much more universal.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The perfect snow car...

As shopping season has officially begun in America, I've been torn between my upcoming Christmas present wishes. On one hand, I'd love to have a brand-new sports car to address a late, mid-life crisis, and on the other, my old snow blower needs to be replaced.

I've since communicated my desires to my spouse, who always very pragmatic and regimented, just said: “You just can have one, but not both”, knowing full-well that I would have to settle on the more mundane, snow-removal tool.

That's when Luigi Tuttofari came into the picture. You see, this man knows his way around Italian-made sports car (he's worked on Fiats all of his life) and he volunteered to modify the rig I had in mind, so it could meet both of my want and need.
He's managed to fit a snow-blower in the front of that little Lamborghini Huracán, that not only will help me clear the snow around the house, but also address the car's low ground clearance if I get stuck and will add some power to the front wheels when roads are slick.

You may object to the size and look of the discharge chute, but I personally think it adds to the character of the automobile and besides, I'm the only one using it!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Mild winter days

If there is something I don't take well at all, it's any winter day that is mild, kind of rainy or just feels that way. It simply depresses me. This, I think, is the only external condition that get me really down. Yet, I can remember these circumstances for as long as I have been skiing because this is not a new condition.

This is it; it's a feeling that I believe only skiers can have and it stands at the very bottom of their “circle of happiness.” This say, I've decided to keep my composure through this painful period, I'll keep on thinking snow, with tons of it and I will maintain absolutely no expectation.

This is my winter worst case scenario M.O.!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The mopping saga (continued)

Mopping the American way didn't prove to be a success and will be abandoned. The drying system that is part of the bucket assembly broke the first day I used it. I returned right away to home depot and got my money back.

From now on, my garage will be mopped the French way, with some terry towels. Simpler, dirtier in its handling (perhaps), but quite efficient. I used to mop years ago, in France, and know what I'm talking about, so it's with great hopes that I'm once more, shifting gear!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Porgy and Bess, take II

A few weeks ago we saw Porgy and Bess for the second time. The first time was just 30 years ago on Broadway, in New York City, and while we appreciated some elements of the show, we couldn't really make good sense of the the lyrics and subsequently, the whole story.

This time, the show had subtitles and it made all the difference in the world; this add-on enabled us to finally get the complete story straight. Sure, the narrative was a bit convoluted like many such stories are, but finally our second impression of the show will be much more than just the famous “Summertime” song...

Thursday, November 27, 2014

From Park City into Vail's culture

I've been delighted to see Vail take over Canyons and Park City resorts, just for the simple reason that I hope they'll link both (which they already announced they will) paving the way to “One Wasatch” the Utah interconnect.

In addition, they are likely to modernize Park City aging lift infrastructure and may be able to solve the Canyons' dysfunctional access. This said, since I started skiing in Park City, I was disappointed that they took down the RFID gates to replace them with hand-held readers.

This definitely is a step backward and I wonder why a prominent chain of ski resort like Vail has ignored this proven and labor-saving device. Never assume too much!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Mopping, the American way

To clean a surface, you need to sweep a wet or moist mop all over it to dissolve and absorb everything that doesn't belong. My experience with mopping came from France where we used a flat piece of cloth wrapped around a wood brush handle. We then twisted-dry the wet cloth by hand into a bucket and kept on mopping.

This rustic set up cannot be found in American and to this day, we've imported the flat pieces for years from France. This was until yesterday, when I bravely decided to make the switch to the American looped yarn mop, invented centuries ago by T.W. Steward, along with a mop bucket cart that allows to wring out the wet mop without straining too much and getting my hands dirty.

Our garage floor will be the theater of operation for this vanguard equipment. I can't wait to test it and enter into the modern era of efficient mopping!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Questionable emails

The internet is a repository of what is good and what is abject in the world we live in. A lot of folks I know still like to circulate pieces of information filled with blatant misinformation and terrible hatred that should, in turn, be widely circulated; at least that it is what's asked at the end of these messages.

I seriously object to it and as much as I can, refuse to read and send or forward such objectionable material. It's not that I have never done it in the past, but I can see clearly how bad it is and no longer want to be part of this form of propaganda.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The delivery man

A few days ago, just before the recent snow storm, I was visited by Nathan Rafferty, Ski Utah's president who came and presented me with a wonderful poster celebrating “One Wasatch”, the up and coming interconnected ski project that will spring Utah into a European ski league of its own.

Since a good need always is notice by Karma, the poster delivery was followed by a generous delivery of snow. While the nostalgic-looking piece is being framed before it proudly inside my office, I can only hope the “One Wasatch” gestation is short and its life for as long as snow will be falling over Utah!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Ski season opening day

Another ski season began yesterday and what a big job this was. First I had to consciously plan it. Where's my gear, my pass, and all the staff, elements that we take for granted but are absolutely necessary when we embark on a skiing outing.

I first gathered everything, except for my car keys that I had misplaced and couldn't find for a long while, then 30 minutes later, I was in the parking lot getting ready. At first the ankle pockets inside my boots failed to recognize my feet and made painfully sure I'd knew about it. My first turns were tentative while my last ones became very confident as if I had not missed a bit since May 16, in Snowbird.

I can't wait for day #2!

Friday, November 21, 2014

A good outcome

Building our home has been a pretty big job and a continuous challenge, but today this is long forgotten as we love the end result. So when we met yesterday with the contractor to finalize the ultimate details and settle our accounts, we almost got what we wanted and we're now turning the page on the whole adventure.

It all ended well because, from the get go, we knew exactly what we wanted, we worked very hard at every step of the way, never assumed anything would go smoothly, kept excellent records, spent an inordinate amount of the time on the site and maintained the pressure on the entire time.

A good lesson learned and a wonderful outcome. Are we ready for another one? Why not!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The importance of the daily check

I don't know about you, but when I first glance at the mirror in the morning as I'm brushing my teeth, I look at the man facing me, long enough to get puzzled, scared and concerned. I look at my reflection like you would look at the old car you're still driving even though you should have traded it in a long, long time ago.

There is visible damage on the body and the interior looks even worse, not to mention under the hood or the body that you no longer desire to see. That's the moment when you ask yourself the question. That good old automobile already shows 133,000 miles on the odometer; how in the world will I be able to take it to 200,000?

That existential question generally calls for more questions and concerns, as well as a vague road map, for plotting the remaining 67,000 miles. Concepts like managing the old vehicle, not speeding too much, easing up on the brakes, watching the payload and changing the oil even more often, to only list of few of them.

Now that you've got the picture, do I still have to launch on a point-by-point comparison with the old guy still blankly staring at me in the mirror?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The “accidental” birth

Right, I'm this kind of kid. I was born long after my sister and brother when my parents thought they were all done. That's when I showed up; I must have been a bittersweet surprise for them and it was shear luck for me. Had modern birth control be popular in those days, my chances of making it on the planet would have been at best, very slim to none.

So here I am and happy to have made it by jumping just through a few feeble hoops. I can also guarantee you that if I had not showed up, humanity wouldn't have miss a beat. My jobs would have gone to others folks, my wife would have married someone else and the only other losers beside me would have been my two children and my grandson.

So once more, I'm delighted I made it on this earth and only regret that I haven't done much, much more with that extraordinary chance that fate gave me, but that's a totally different story!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Is Utah worth dying for?

This morning I received an email from a friend of mine, back in France, who alerted me on a recently published study by Perry Renshaw, a neuroscientist at the University of Utah.

What Mr Renshaw stressed is that despite ranking as America's happiest state, Utah also has a disproportionately high rates of suicide and associated mood disorders compared to the rest of the country. He said that Utah was the No. 1 state for antidepressant use, something I already knew.

This paradox generally attributed to gun use, low population density and the Mormon culture is, according to Renshaw, caused by altitude which impacts our brain chemistry by changing its levels of serotonin and dopamine, that help regulate our feelings of happiness. My immediate reaction is that Colorado, still higher than Utah, should be number one, but of course it has far less Mormons in its population, so in my view, the fault full rests on the state's religious culture.

Do I feel like hanging myself? Absolutely not, especially when skiing season begins just a few days from now!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Skiing the Alps from America

For years, I believed it made sense for Americans to fly over to the Alps and ski. It was before I traveled too much, suffered from all kinds of jet-lag and worked in the hospitality industry.

I learned that what I call “negative-jet-lag” (the one you get when you fly Eastbound) is the worst, and that if a week is a minimum time segment to allocate for a European ski vacation, it's no longer available as skiers come for stays ranging from 3 to 5 days.

This is why, more than ever, the fabled Austrian, French or Swiss ski vacation for Americans who live in the USA is all but a pipe-dream!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Evolving slalom technique?

I'm not sure I'll get up at 5 am every time and watch many ski world cups this winter, but I stumbled out of bed today to watch the 2nd run of the Levi men's slalom. Norway's Henrik Kristoffersen, won magisterially and my take-away, after watching the incredible new breed of Swede and Norwegian slalom specialists, was their peculiar style in which their hands appeared to be totally free in relation to their feet. 
Let me explain; for years, skiers' arms appeared to trigger their foot work and both arms and legs operated in perfect synchronicity. The Scandinavian top slalom racers seem to have broken away from this regimented rhythm and their arms appear clearly free and independent from their feet. A much freer impression emanates from their skiing style, in which the arms are following the motion, when in the past, they seemed to have been the action's catalyst.

Have you noticed it? Do you agree?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

So much too learn, so little time!

I'd like to learn something new and with technology, these days, learning is just a few keystrokes away. There's so much on line that there is in fact too much.

So what should I sink my teeth into? Programming, movie-making, political science, architecture or sport psychology? It's pretty embarrassing to admit that I'm literally paralyzed by this plethora of options.
My daughter also directed me to look into MOOC (Massive open online course) and I have just begun to drawn into its super rich content. I better get thinking, organize and going before I have no more available time left!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Early exposure to religion

Seeing an old picture on me on skis, revived memories about my early experience with religion. Should I say that while I got hooked on skiing from the get go, this wasn't the case for the Catholic Faith.

I remember that religion in the family (evening communal prayer) was utterly boring while Catechism, up to a point, was an entertaining story, plus I loved history. I don't remember if I believed in Jesus Christ's miracles that were enumerated all along the course, I just took them as original tidbits.

Obviously the most effective and potent tool used by the church to convince us, little kids, was fear and it certainly worked wonder. So for me religion was extreme boredom, plus a potent “don't do this” list held together by the cement of fear.

Fortunately for me, that temporary bound crumbled before I could find any good reason to become a believer.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Really cold shower!

When we changed planes in Denver, yesterday morning, it was a freezing 1 degree F at the airport. The day before, we enjoyed a balmy 69 degrees in Washington, DC and today our Park City day started at a cold 7 degrees.
Hard to adapt to this drastic changes, but winter is upon us and we must get used to it. Nonetheless, I went running early this morning and we just finished a walk this afternoon. We seemed to have accepted that new state of affair. Just another six short months and we'll shift back to Spring!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Ski line-up from yesteryear...

This weekend, a former primary school classmate sent me a picture taken during the winter of 1957 or 1958, on the occasion of a ski test, called “étoiles” (a test similar to Nastar that came with a snow-crystal shaped pin adorned with 1, 2 or 3 brass stars, depending on the achieved level of ski proficiency.)

This was the beginning of a traditional sporting rite of passage in elementary schools located at, or in close proximity to, a French ski resort. The photo was taken in Morzine, less than 2 miles away from Montriond, my hometown. Monsieur and Madame Losserand, our teachers, had taken us there to take that test and what was remarkable was our attire at the time. 
No ski eye-wear, few ski hats and quite a few berets, caps, hoods or even scarves for girls (certainly no helmet!) and our gloves were all hand-knit mitts. One remarkable detail, though, I had no parka, but I already wore in-the-boot stretch pants... Skis were rudimentary (mine were handmade by my Dad and their tips were flattened) and yet, we seemed very happy. At least I looked like I was enjoying myself (bib # 18).

Now, that I've seen that shot, I was reminded that I obtained my “deuxième étoile” which consisted of being able to make a few Stem-Christy turns, traverse and side slip. Enough to launch me on any slope. I was already hooked on skiing, thought it was super cool and yet still ignorant that the sport would become my lifetime pursuit. To me this picture is priceless stand as the gateway to what has made my life so rich and so worth living.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

My concept of old and recent

As I grow in age, what is recent for me is getting older and older for younger folks. Take something that happened 10 years ago. It's still recent for me, whereas is represents a good third of a thirty year old life and is therefore very ancient to him or or.
I need to adjust when it comes to my musical or cinematographic taste and while I try, the raft of life takes me inexorably to the museum of my antique life. Nothing I can do about it; especially not pretend that yesterday has already passed its elusive expiration date.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Handling disappointment

When success is normal, failure is much harder to stand, yet alone tolerate. I came to accomplish a hard project in my daughter's apartment and just partially succeeded (let's say, three-quarter of it) and felt less than whole when I had to admit defeat.

For a while, I tried to invent a collection of excuses, but none of them succeeded at deflecting the sad reality of failure. So, I embraced that undesirable state of affairs, smelled it fully, experienced it through my whole self and very soon, before I know it, the stigma had vaporized.

I don't know where all these hard and unpleasant feelings went. Probably, in some dark corners of my persona, but they are more than welcome to dwell there for as long as I own myself. Next project?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Pirandello; a first!

I have always heard great things about Luigi Pirandello's the famous playright, but never saw any of his work performed in a live theater. I saw it tonight and I liked it a lot.

Another fine evening in Washington and a lot of fun watching “Absolutely! (perhaps)” an adaptation of “Cosi è (se vi pare) that revolves around the concept of craziness and what we think of that state.
Great actors, great production in a small “boutique” theater and continuous stream of fun. I'll go back to sample more Pirandello!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

While my cello gently weeps

Would I chose to go on my own to a cello concert? I don't think so. But since this performance was Maya Beiser was my daughter's treat I went and was quite amazed to hear and appreciate what was coming out of the giant violin.

The artist was on top of her game and her program that included compositions from Janis Joplin, Pink Floyd and Jimmy Hendrix, to name just a few was both contemporary and eclectic. I had a great evening but have not decided yet to take on cello lessons!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Choppy run in the big city

In recent months, I've become both a much lighter and somewhat weaker runner and I now realize that running in the streets of Washington, DC, isn't pure pleasure, as I must stop at traffic lights, wait for my turn, and get a very choppy run for my money.

The older I get, I like things that run smoothly, so stop and go traffic isn't for me anymore. I certainly enjoy running around the White House or the Mall, but it takes lots of traffic lights and much patience to get there.

This said, I can handle it. These days, urban running is just but a few weeks each year!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Is Obama still relevant?

The recent election has been extremely hard on the Democratic Party and of course, the President. Which begs the obvious question; is he still relevant? 
Probably not, because he's not cornered between a congress that will be exacting its pound of flesh from him, that he turn he won't want to make happy and his succession (Hillary) that he doesn't care much for.

So my prediction is that it's not going to be pretty and even though his hellish road was paved with noble intentions, it remains what it always is: A road to Hell.