Friday, January 31, 2014

Technology to the rescue!

My developing 3D skills have been a godsend in the construction project I'm wrestling with. There seem that there isn't a day that I don't use them.

When something is unclear to a construction worker, I can do much better than just scribble a rough drawing on a piece of paper, I can give the guy a complete 3D drawing with all dimensions, and what's better yet, no need to print, most workers now have and use smart phones.

Thanks technology!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Flashback: World Cup in Avoriaz

As January comes to a close, I've almost forgotten an important fortieth anniversary. On Friday, January 11, 1974, at the Pataca night club in Morzine, when my good friend Jean-Pierre Chatelard and Scott Henderson, then coach of the Canadians, downed an entire bottle of scotch while laughing and redesigning the world.

The next day, I was working the downhill course in Avoriaz, the run was frozen stiff and so was my head. Switzerland's Roland Collombin won the day and this Saturday was to become a turning point in my career. Too much drinking helped me come to the cathartic decision to finally leave the Avoriaz ski school and start a career in the supplier-side of the ski industry.

The rest is history!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

John Boehner at the State Of The Union

Even for his most fervent supporter, it would be hard not to admit that Mr. Boehner as a crappy attitude when he listens to his President.

I watched him carefully last night as Obama was delivering his speech and John Boehner's body language was speaking incredible volumes and showed that the man is determined to be an obstructionist till the bitter end.

I certainly wouldn't hire him for any sales and marketing position and he certainly would never make the cut as a used car salesman!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Do you speak internet?

I'm talking today about internet-slang. I stumbled on it today as I was looking for the meaning of =3, which after some research revealed that it meant “Cute/goofy face”, not something I would appreciate if it were applied to me, even though my physical appearance would deserve it.

My search took me to this kind of site which immensely broadened my education about other acronyms.
Here, are some more that might also enlighten you:

· BOBFOC Body Off Baywatch, Face Off Crimewatch
· BUTTERFACE A Woman With An Attractive Body But An Ugly Face
· F2F Face To Face
· FACE PALM Slap forehead with the palm of your hand
· FBF Facebook Friend
· GNFB Good Night Facebook
· IYF In Your Face
· TRDMF Tears Running Down My Face
· X3 Cute face

Okay, I'm done with my day blog, so please GOMF now!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Alexis, Marcel & Ted

These three ski racers are bringing excitement back to a sport in which I had lost interest. They are so talented and yet so competitive that it bodes extremely well for the rest of the racing season. It is rare to have such a wealth of talent on display at the same time.
Their individual achievements seem to feeding upon each others and I'm totally convince that they all HATE so much to lose that it has a overpowering effect on them, dwarfing the roaring of their coaches and the acclaims of their fans.

I know what I'm talking about, because for me, the emotional intensity I feel when I lose, is always much greater than the joy of winning!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

...And a boring one!

We've also seen “Mitt” another Sundance documentary about Mitt Romney and his two failed attempts at the Presidency of the USA. Our local property owner came out as very flat, uninspiring and relying more on his family ties than on political strategist.

It left me with a highly boring sense of what the life of a typical Mormon family is like; naïve beliefs, total conformism, lots of prayer, soft drinks and bad food.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A must see documentary!

Yesterday was our first Sundance movie and as luck would have it, a great one!

The Case Against 8 is about a measure that repealed the right of same-sex couples to marry in California and how two prominent attorneys, Ted Olson and David Boies, that used to be political enemies took the case of two loving gay couples and prevailed all the way to the Supreme Court.

This film give an intimate view of a trial, people never have a chance to see and shows how penetrating the human suffering of being denied the same rights as other people's can turn around the most conservative magistrates!

Friday, January 24, 2014

High speed skiing​​!

I can't remember having skied so fast as recently. This, of course, is mainly due to the fact that there is no powder and no decent tree skiing available at the moment, and while I am not the kind of guy who loves to ski on super-groomed runs, I have little other alternative. With a thin layer of snow and an arctic-cold weather, our ski slopes are just like speedways, perfectly smooth and polished.

The new skis are also perhaps a reason that keep people standing on them in spite of their high rate of speed, but I mostly credit the fact that there are very few people on the runs (thanks, Sundance Film Festival!) and on these perfectly prepared runs it's easy to believe that we're all Bode Miller!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Ignoring (a bit) Sundance

The Sundance Film Festival is now in full swing throughout Park City, yet we are (almost) ignoring it. As usual, we've been volunteering, but half as much as usual, since our construction project is sucking up most of our remaining time and has been eating up into our skiing time.
For the very same reason, we haven't seen one single film yet. We're seemingly taking a vacation from the movie business and we don't dislike it. We'll see a few films as the weekend approaches but that will enough for us this year. All this to say that, when it comes to it, we never fail to keep our priorities in order!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Cashing in on my own demise!

I never thought that I would ever receive a retirement check. Retirement was truly never part of my lifelong goals. Well, things have changed and what's more important, I must have come of age.

At any rate, today marks the first time I will get a monthly stipend from the US Government and it doesn't feel so bad. The amount is modest, but definitely worth receiving. No, it's unfortunately not a check, it's an immaterial looking, direct deposit on my bank account.

Oh, yes! The French Government owes me some money too, but this will come a bit later and the sum is likely to be minuscule; at any rate, I'm not holding my breath for that one!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Is Sochi dangerous?

In spite of my above-average tolerance for risk, I wouldn't set foot in Sochi during the Olympics.

Sure, Putin, Sochi's promoter in chief claims he has 40,000 troop to prevent bad things from happening on his $50 billion pet project, but it takes just one terrorist with an innovative scheme to create chaos and destruction.

Terrorists have had years to plot and prepare their evil acts and there isn't much Putin and his militiamen can do to protect the innocents. Sochi? Just avoid it this year.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Old enough to tell the story?

How does it feel to be an older skier? Hard to tell because no one ever writes or speaks on the subject; for obvious reasons, skiing is a young buck's sport and how a skier falters and tries to keep going isn't particularly sexy or interesting.

For years, I've been fascinated by the transition to the Senior status and what I would call the “twilight” of skiing. Now, that I'm in the midst of that transformation, I intend to tell it exactly how it feels and how it is. Now is the time to get prepared to follow that adventure!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Killy does it again!

I'm not talking about winning medals, but about crass salesmanship. After publishing his affection for Vladimir Putin back in some French regional newspaper in October of last year, my ski hero does it again, this time in the well-respected Le Monde Newspaper under the headline: “Putin and I have become buddies...”

Okay, this time Jean-Claude is becoming a bit over-zealous and his eagerness to paint the Russian tyrant as a good guy suggests that there must be more Roubles, Swiss Francs or Dollars than meet the eye or match the pure Olympic ideal.

My sense is that it's now time for Killy to tune down his sales pitch before it becomes overtly suspect!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The meaning of “high” birthdays...

When we're still young, birthdays are seen as positive and pleasant milestones on the way to growing, learning and maturing, but once these usual boundaries are crossed, the meaning of one extra year is more bad news than anything, unless we're able to appreciate it as an extra arrow in our quiver or one more layer of wisdom.
At that point, birthdays serve to remember that we're still lucky to be participating in a wonderful world and that we should cherish whatever fortune, health, talents and luck we're still blessed with.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Can freestyle skiing ever stand-up to alpine?

I promised to share my ideas in order to pull freestyle from the ski ditch and hoist it into alpine glory. A tall order? You bet! Clearly, freestyle suffers from it subjective judging versus the clear-cut aspect of speed timing that rules alpine. This said, there might be some room in bringing the two types of events together.
Picture this: A slalom race with some freestyle moguls and aerials in between each run, or the same with GS and adding slope-side event for example. This would made for continued entertainment and might finally expose freestyle to a larger public.

The idea goes back to my concept of mini Olympic weekends at major ski resorts throughout winter. Folks like festivals, no stand-alone ski events. What do you think?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Can freestyle skiing ever stand-up?

Last weekend was the annual Freestyle World Cup at Deer Valley. The events are held in the evening which a large crowd (well over 5,000 people) to attend by American standards. In spite of this, freestyle skiing remains the ignored sibling of the alpine family and is not gaining much in popularity.

Even though it's largely dominated by Canada, the U.S. and China, the sport isn't developing as I would have predicted twenty years ago. It's spectator-friendly, can be seen in its entirety from top to bottom and is more entertaining than its alpine counterpart.

Are they ways its popularity could be enhanced? I have a few ideas... I'll share them with you in my next blog...

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Are most General Contractors bad?

After building several homes, I've learned a few things, and one of them, if there is an opportunity for taking a significant shortcut, the General Contractor (GC) or their sub will seize the opportunity.

In other words, if the homeowner doesn't watch carefully for its own interests, he will be taken advantage of by the multiple agents involved in the process. Time and productivity are now king and craftsmanship and honesty can only yield to money concerns.

This said they are differences between GC. Some are woefully incompetent, some are just good salesmen and other are plain crook. Of course, there are the ones that are a combination of two or three of these factors and the end result may vary in severity!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A new morning, a blank slate!

I don't know about you, but I go to bed totally beat up, tired and out of juice and when I wake up, ma batteries are fully recharged and I'm ready to take the world. I don't let my worries spoil my daily rest. My seven to eight hour rest refuels me totally.

Come morning I feel strong and full rejuvenated. Just like starting a blank sheet of paper. I feel boundless energy, get great new ideas and can't wait to try them in a quickly deteriorating day. Let me get to work before everything unravels around!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Thriving on adversity!

Today, I'm reading an article about Mikaela Shiffrin, this promising American young racer. She was quoted as saying that she was “embracing adversity.” If this 19 year old ski champion has a huge life advantage upon most of us.

She's already understood what people four times her age are still not really getting, which is that the magical pill of strength come to us every day under the guise of adversity!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Lance, fame, power and lies...

Tonight we went out to see the “Armstrong Lie” movie. A film not so much about lying, but much more about power and clinging onto celebrity status at all costs and that means to an individual. My take-away was that, after a while, people believe so much in their own BS that they become totally disconnected from reality and unable to see themselves as they truly are. Status, fame can make people incredibly means and dangerous. Don't miss that film!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The strength to carry on...

I don't get easily discouraged and can't explain really why. One fact is certain; I used to throw the towel all the time, but not anymore.

I just seem unaffected by the staff that bothers most people. Is it the just fact that I'm getting older or that I have just learned new skills late in life. I don't really know, but having that new disposition is what really counts.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The formless video

Video assignments are tough, especially when the scope is general and wide open. That's when a mental script or some sort of plan comes in handy. Today, I have to shoot of video of the Freestyle World Cup in Deer Valley without having the right to film the actual competitions. This means that I must run around the bush and creatively communicate what went on during the events. Mostly soundbites, crowds reactions and vignettes. These projects that are created “as we go” are difficult to capture, but they are always so challenging!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Eye-opening committee assignment

Today was the end of my participation in a special committee reviewing the pay of our City Council members and Mayor. I happened to be standing on the opposite end of our 5 people group, pushing only for a modest pay increase.

I believe that serving as a small town elected official remains a public service to our community, not a second job or an additional source of income. The others were opened for lavish increases with little reservations. The issue had been started by our three-term departing mayor who also wasn't someone I particularly admired.

Did I win the day? Probably not totally, but by speaking my mind honestly and clearly I significantly affected the outcome of our committee's final recommendation and fell proud of it!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The snow drought of 1964

Forty years ago, I was working as a lifty while going to high-school and I remember the 63-64 as being a totally snowless season in the Alps. During Christmas and New Year, my job was to sell lift ticket and punch cards at the Nabor ski lift, an aging T-bar located on top of the Pleney mountain.

The only available snow had fallen in October and November and was only found under the trees of the shaded forest. I remember that we were loading a primitive snowcat and bringing whatever snow we could scrape to keep the uphill lane of the lift covered with a thin layer of snow.

That winter, high pressure and clear weather stubbornly stuck well into the end of March when the first significant snow falls finally occurred.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

When time is scarce

It happens that when we're in a jam, we need to make sure that we remain super-organized. This was the case for me today and while I missed a few of the balls I was juggling in the air, I managed my day in some okay manner.

Since our time becomes scarcer by the minute, should we stress ourselves by striving for higher and higher efficiency? Sometimes, I wonder if it's worthwhile letting that poison into our lives. Taking a lighter load to begin with might be the wiser path to follow...

Monday, January 6, 2014

In skiing, timing's everything!

This phrase, attributed to Jean-Claude Killy can apply to a lot of things, but it's so true when you ski. This Sunday, my daughter and I skied Mayflower in Deer Valley that had just been opened and it was powder aplenty.

Great experience, wonderful day. Fast forward to this afternoon, I skied it again and despite the arctic temperature, the snow had lost its fluffyness and skiing was now a lot of work. What a difference a mere 24 hours make!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Building fatigue...

I'm starting to be tired of my building project and I'm really glad it's almost over. My defenses are lowered, I feel weaker.

Better find my second-wind now to re-energize my watch and my creative juice so we can end it on a super high note!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Before I forget...

In America, Christmas is a big deal, but New Year, not so. In Europe, it's the other way around. It's perhaps because the old continent is more secular and fixated for better days to come.

In France, wishing someone a Happy New Year is sacred ritual and is something you'd never miss for anything or would be seen as a rude individual. The wishes last the entire month of January, and even the country's president receives wishes from everyone through that entire period.

In America, the New Year only get noticed at midnight the year before and from that point, it's a fast nosedive. Oh, by the way, Happy New Year to you!

Friday, January 3, 2014

In search of decent skiing

Lack or scarcity of snow is depressing but certainly not new. It happens with striking regularity and I have always been amazed by how resourceful, creative and even happy skiers can become with just a tiny sliver of snow.
Of course I never miss to see challenges through difficulties and this trait of mine turns a dreadful world into a liveable one. When I dig deeper, I see that skiing is just a metaphor.

The same truth applies to the rest of our lives: Health, business, relationships and fun to list a few. Start with next to nothing, add challenge, sprinkle with creativity and you'll get something good; try it!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Overpopulation: Explosion or a cancer?

This morning, on NPR, I was listening about a bet made decades ago between Standford's Paul Ehrlich, author of the 1968 best-seller “The Population Bomb” and Yale's Julian Simon who thought humanity could wiggle our way through overpopulation by being inventive if nothing else. Simon proposed that they bet on what would happen to the price of five metals over a decade, and won his bet.
I think Simon got his timing right but his theory wrong, because today, if there was indeed no “bomb” unlike what Ehrlich predicted, there sure is a ravaging cancer eating up the whole earth alive because we refuse to do anything about overpopulation and the first and most critical component to crumble is our environment.

This radio show was quite timely, because it zeros-in on my current interest and future commitment for the rest of my life. How to successfully wrestle with overpopulation. Now you know where I'm coming from...

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Rickety ski lifts

Yesterday, as I was skiing at Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR), I was mesmerized by the fact that the two lifts serving the best terrain or that ski area are fixed-grip, two seaters made by Yan Lifts in the early 1970s.

That's more than 40 years old, when most modern resorts have long shed their museum pieces for fast high-speed quad, six or even eight seaters, PCMR still doesn't think that better skiers could use a faster lift.
That goes a long a way in saying how disconnected with modern times and market reality the largest and most notorious resort in Utah is. Thaynes and Jupiter lifts are to Park City what Alta is to rest of the American ski resorts. An evolutionary anomaly and more certainly on the way of becoming a living dinosaur.