Monday, March 31, 2014

“Winging it”

This weekend, I was given a writing assignment at the last minute and had no idea how I would treat it. I went, I watched and I wrote something.

Now it sits without much form on my computer. Will it turn into something readable and fun. I don't know, I hope so, and if it ever does, you have right there the miracle of creation when you go on wing and prayer... We'll see!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Killy says “time to quit”

Jean-Claude Killy has always been my ski hero and role model. I've followed his career since the French National Championships in Morzine, back in 1961 through the mid 80 when I worked closely with him on a Lange project and thought incredibly highly of him; in fact my whole career in America hinges, in large part, on Killy's ski success.

Then “Toutoune” went on to work on a number of sport marketing endeavors, including the 1992 Winter Olympic and became a member of the IOC. I don't think much of this organization, but this is just a matter of personal opinion. This week, Killy had the courage to quit that position and, hopefully, re-invent himself one more time. 
Too bad that he also stressed his admiration for Vladimir Putin, the tyrant-oligarch, but as some have said, this is merely an endorsement and in the sport marketing business, certain endorsements are better than others; some can backfire or badly stain one's reputation. Hopefully (?) the payoff will have been well-worth the damage sustained to Killy's pristine Olympic image!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

My last ski students?

Forty years ago, I was making the ultimate turns of my last ski season, teaching full-time in Avoriaz, France. I remember these German students, they just had a great time on the mountain!
It's not that I didn't enjoy the job, even though I had measured its limitations, but I needed a year-round job. I wasn't a carpenter or an electrician or had any solid counter-seasonal occupation.

I didn't saw myself as a retailer or a restaurant operator, the other alternatives, and after trying my hand at a number of esoteric, off-season activities, I had given up these options, I was simply on my way out. Yes, the end of a fun era...

Friday, March 28, 2014

Facebook content generators

I don't think I'd be exaggerating if I said that 10% of my “Facebook Friends” generate 90% of the content I read when I waste my valuable time on that gossipy site.

Granted, I post too, from time to time and need to keep up to date with what goes on with social media, since it's part of my very part-time job, but I do my best to patronize it with moderation!

When I observe this, I ask myself the next logical question: Haven't these folks better things to do than consistently lay down their stream of consciousness for the rest of the world to see? Probably not.

Would I hire these same folks as (productive) workers ? Probably not. I've rested my case.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

You've got to love life!

In order to have a great life, you need to love life. It you don't, everything you come in contact with often turns bitter, adverse and miserable.

When you love life, you always hope for betterment, you make accommodations for the rainy days, give people and circumstances the benefit of the doubt, always looking forward to a much better tomorrow.

To last longer, you've got to keep on loving life, no matter what terrible things it might have been done to you at one point or another, or even all along the way. If you love life enough, it will eventually return the favor. Keep on doing it, if you agree with me, try to love it if you're still in doubt, and of course, jump over to love if you have lost all hope!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Putin and the French

Anytime I speak to my French friends and try to tell them how bad Putin is, they respond by telling me how great the Sochi Olympics were. I reply by saying that $50 billion patches many holes and will blind the less discerning individuals for a while, but they don't seem to see the big, bad Russian bear in the soft-spoken tyrant.
I know that Killy publicly declared that Mr. Putin was one of his best buddies and I wonder if my countrymen continue feeling the same way the day Russian armor vehicles start rolling back into Hungary, Poland or the Czech Republic. Some folks can be slow to react...

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Body language as a training tool?

We are fans of Ted videos. One of the recent one we saw was about body language used to train and develop ourselves. We all know that body language affects how others see us, but it may also change our self-image.

The presentation by social psychologist Amy Cuddy posits that “power posing” — namely, adopting a confident posture, even when we shake in our boots — might affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and as a result might influence important personal outcomes. I bought the argument and strongly suggest you watch that video too!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Our twelfth move

Some time ago, my sister-in-law had asked me how many times we had moved as a couple. I first came up with eleven times, but after recounting, I confirmed that it was indeed a dozen!

That's a lot and while the first one didn't feel too bad, a combination of advancing age and bulging possessions has contributed to make each move a little bit harder.

While we had the luxury of time on this occasion, we still had to do the work and one week later, our bodies still haven't fully recovered!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Lost and found

Today, we had a visit from Finn, our grandson. We skied with him and his parents in the morning and took him back home, after lunch, while his mom and dad were able to enjoy a few more run on their own.

Finn's investigative mind was jubilant as he explored our new home, poked his nose into boxes that weren't meant for him and discovered a host of treasure-troves. Among one of them was my French ski instructor certification pin, that I thought I had misplaced, but most probably lost forever. The number 3457 is engraved on its back and for me it remains priceless; thank you Finn!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Descente ski outfit

I got a Descente ski outfit (jacket and pants) when I was working with Pre skis in 1993. It actually was a uniform and for the past 20 years, I've been wearing it. Made in Honk-Kong, it stills look and feel brand new and I generally wear it when I run on cold, winter mornings.

A few days ago, as I was skiing with my wife in Deer Valley, I rode the Sultan chair with two professors for San Francisco who were lecturing at the University of Utah. One of them was wearing the exact same vintage ski outfit (color and style). This speaks volumes about product longevity in an otherwise “disposable” era...

Friday, March 21, 2014

Que Pasa!

Recently, one of my blog readers has been asking what was going on. Right, since March 4th, I have apparently stopped publishing. That's true, I was so overwhelmed by finishing our house project and then moving in, that everything had to stop.
I simply run out of time, just like one runs out of life and kicks the bucket. The good news is that I somehow “resurrected” and then, since I kept on writing my blogs, the missing ones will eventually resurface, beginning today.

The bad news? There won't be pictures between March 5 and March 20...

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Throwing out dictionaries?

Moving to a new place is a wonderful opportunity to get rid of old stuff, or at the very least, objects that aren't used anymore. Every household has lots of these and this time, I'm committed to get rid of many unused materials.

Among these are dictionaries. French, English, by-lingual and the like. Now that everything's on line, it's time to clean house of unused dictionaries. Does that make you feel bad? Well, welcome to the 21st century!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Farewell good little house!

As we are now delivering our old, little house to its new owners, we feel a tinge of sadness, but not to much. It's been a wonderful home for almost twelve years, a fantastic work in progress and good place to live. Time now to turn the page. Good bye, little house!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Exhaustion never stops determination...

This move has been hard on us and now that we've “arrived”, we'd tempted to throw in the towel, and let our general contractor off the hook for everything that has yet to be fixed, finished or simply done.

We won't give up, though, and that's when a “second wind” of sort is salutary. We won't give up until the project is truly over!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Final move?

We've moved a lot of time during our married life; will this be the last move? Probably, as the moving truck has been loading then unloading our staggering amount of possessions, we are starting to realize the full folly of the ordeal as we're watching an event repeated far too many times during our lifetime.

Perhaps the practice is in my blood because my alpine parents were of the nomadic kind as each summer, we moved up to the mountain pastures and just did it routinely. At any rate, I promised this one move might very well be the last one and this said, I'm not looking forward to the ultimate move!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Never take no for an answer

This Sunday, before our big, mean move, I was missing an important item and ran down to Costco to get it. On Sunday, the store closes at 6 pm and that particular location was out of the stuff I wanted and I absolutely, positively need it for tomorrow morning.

So, I find a department clerk and ask him to check if what I want happens to be available at their nearby location. He checks, says yes, but declares that I won't have the time to get there on time. He's absolutely positive about this impossibility.

Because I'm an optimist, I think otherwise, we jump in the car, race to the other place just in time before the doors close, get what we want and drive home!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The immigration trunk...

This very common and sturdy container is made of steel and helped carry our valuables from France to America, one May day of 1977 when we leaped to America...

We purchased it in March of that year in the little town of Thonon, France, at la Gallerie du Printemps. We paid about $25 for it. Today, I use it to store extension cords, straps, ropes and the like...

Friday, March 14, 2014

And if the plane disappearance was an accident?

Yes, I'm talking about the vanished Malaysia Airlines plane. An accident; that's just what my neighbor thinks. He's not a skier like me; he's a pilot and he happens to pilot a 777 so he knows a few things about that bird.

He believes that a fire inside the plane started by the lithium batteries inside the cargo hold might have doomed the plane, his crew and passengers. No terrorism, just carbon monoxide asphyxiation...

Ski racing fatigue...

The World Cup finals in Switzerland are late enough in the season to hardly provide much excitement in me. I'm done with ski racing watching and am ready to do a few good turns on my own. The problem is that I'm ski-starved and it starts to bother me to no end...

This new house project has exerted a terrible toll on my skiing this season, and I'm ready to get seriously back on the boards. I didn't even know how good I had it for all these years! There's something to be said about appreciating the good life I normally have...

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Light at the end of the tunnel?

Nine month, the human time for gestation, will also have been the time for seeing our home project to completion. Delays, problems, frustrations, have all taken their toll along the way and I'm delighted we are now close to the goal. There's still a ton of work to do around the house, but once moved in, we'll get there!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The lost airplane...

There's no question that a vanishing aircraft is an immense tragedy for all people concerned. I sincerely hope they find the airplane or at least its wreck very soon to bring this horrible ordeal to some kind of closure, because as time passes and there's nothing in sight, the plot thickens and it won't be long before these two guys who traveled on stolen European passports become real aliens, you know what I mean, the little green men.

For the moment, I'll settle for Iranians. Do I have a conspiracy theory yet? Perhaps; all these passengers asked the pilot to turn around and take them skiing to Utah, but that one theory doesn't hold much... snow. In fact, it's likely to be soaked into some salty water!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Casualties by the number...

It's amazing how 239 likely casualties can stop the world, mobilize all the nation and stop at nothing to find a lost plane somewhere in Asia. At the same time, 100,000 to 150,000 casualties in Syria have no effect or no much effect at all on anyone anymore. Go figure...

Monday, March 10, 2014

Noah's Ark and the Titanic...

I saw that one on Facebook with a caption that said that the Titanic built by man sunk while Noah's Ark inspired by God, withstood the raging flood. This, I believe, came from some Mormon sermon heard that day. Well, the Titanic incident had more more to do with pilot's error than engineering defect (it was a state of the art vessel at the time) and Noah's Ark is just a myth.

Another fallacy of religion that doesn't think twice before its compares legend to reality!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A simpler way to teach skiing?

As I attempted to explain in my previous blog, ski students at American ski school are told a mambo-jumbo of technical stuff and often end up totally mixed up. Little details are thrown together with fundamental truths with little sense of gradation or importance.

All gets jumbled up and confuses the hell out of skiers who don't really understand what the instructor is talking about. As I was telling my wife, later on that day; the problems that Bode Miller, Marcel Hirscher and Ted Ligety occasionally face on the hill are the exact same that befall the lowly skier. Not anticipating enough and being late both in terms of decision and balance.

So simple, isn't, yet where are the right words to tell that story?

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Taking a ski lesson

This weekend, I finally got my chance at getting a few ski lessons. The last time I had this opportunity was when I was completing my ski instructor certification in Chamonix almost 40 years ago!

I was shooting a video about an instruction clinic for skiers who wanted to “breakaway” from mediocrity and usher into the big leagues of skiing like steep terrain, the trees and powder.

So, you'll ask me, what has changed in teaching ordinary skiers how to make extraordinary turns? Not that much in four decades; instructors still talk too much, use too many arcane terms and fail to communicate by using simple concepts people can understand.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Pretending I'm someone different than who I am...

Tomorrow, one of my current assignments will take me undercover, and I'll have to pretend I'm someone I'm not... I will need to play it cool, say little, make no wave, be inconspicuous as much as possible.

By no mean boast about my extensive ski business experience, because the setting is what it's all about. I don't want to have to lie or tell stories that are too deceptive, that promises to be a real challenge, so please stay tuned.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Back-breaking activities?

A few years ago, I broke my back and for a moment joined the club of back-pain-sufferers. Seems that today is getting close to an encore, but I still reserve myself and sure plan to save myself the best
I can for our next move from house A to house B.

We'll see if the aging spine will get this lightly and won't rebel under the load. Ouch! To be continued...

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

When UPS isn't helpful...

These days UPS tries to do as little as possible. The other day, I misspelled my delivery address when placing an order, and sure enough didn't make the least effort to deliver my parcels.

Since you can forget about calling anyone these days, you go on line, do the “chat” thing, wait forever for an available agent, who eventually find your undelivered parcel and tells you to pick them up yourself at the nearby distribution center, which is neither “nearby” nor “convenient.”

So you charm and cajole the agent and he finally agrees to send them on the next day. Tough luck, one out of the three parcel doesn't make it. Here you go again wrestling with a nastier chat agent and almost having to go and pick up the damned piece.

After pleading for my life to get the stray box the next day I finally got it. And also got that UPS is soon turning like the US Post Office in terms of customer's friendliness.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

An eye for detail?

Nothing is more difficult than quality control and particularly, visual control. The more complex the problem, the longer it takes to spot flaws or defects if these happen to be the name of the game.

While we can see a lot of the things we are after at first glance, it takes greater time to discover more and soon we're step into the domain of diminishing returns. So that's it; it takes time, repetition, sickening focus and systematic organization to survive and perhaps excel at that difficult game.

If there's something it teaches all of us, it is that there are no shortcut, but a stubborn, almost robotic adhesion to the few simple principles listed here.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Bad vibes for Sochi, Putin and Friends

I've never felt comfortable about the Games this year. It smelled the setup, the masquerade and I knew something fawl would happen around it.

We all thought about some terrorist, some black widow, but the terrorist wasn't the one we thought we'd get.

The terrorist, the bully, the egomaniac that is ruining the Olympic spirit is Vladimir Putin.

How can anyone be friend with this sinister character?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sympathy for the Devil?

A week after his lavish Olympics, the Kremlin's boss is showing the world his true face for the few naïve folks who still thought he had some humanity left in him.

Vladimir Putin is a dangerous egomaniac can only be brought down to control if shunned by the world media, portrayed as the evil as he really is and sees his upcoming G8 meeting boycotted .

Saturday, March 1, 2014

A bad ski decision...

Today, with little time and late in the day, I decided to make a quick trip to Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR), the closest ski hill to my house.

As I got there, I decided to ski Jupiter, its highest point and I found a huge line at the old rickety chairlift. You see, popularity is bred in the “Park City” name of PCMR.

Both Canyons and Deer Valley offer far better lift equipment, no lines, as good conditions, and in the end, a much better skiing experience.