Saturday, January 31, 2015

Is Putin more dangerous than Isis?

At the moment, all eyes are on Isis and the radical Islamist group is eclipsing Putin's evil. So my question of the day is, should the world be more concerned from Putin than from that amorphous group of crazy Muslims?
I'd say the former is spookier because he's on his own as an absolute modern Czar, he is a patented egomaniac and, worst of all, the man controls almost 10,000 nuclear warheads at his fingertips. I don't know for you, but for me, it's both a frightening and convincing argument!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Working on my skis

Yesterday, I passed on my daily skiing outing in order to work on my beat up skis. I actually worked on two pairs of these that I have taken to pretty ugly places this early season. I'm ambivalent about tuning my skis. It's one of those love-hate relationships.

I'm not enthused about setting up to do that work, but as soon as I begin, I enjoy it thoroughly. I don't do a perfect job, because when it's time to address the problem, there are huge gauges in the bases and the edges have taken a severe beating too.

What counts though, is that my imperfect job generally makes a huge difference in the way my boards ski. From “so bad” my skis actually step up to “okay.” Until now, this season has been perfect for hitting rocks, stumps and snow snakes; my skis don't appreciate this and neither do I!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Discovering a new Park City ski run

Yesterday felt lake April 15 than the end of January, weather-wise, so I took it easy and did some slow, exploratory skiing. For long, I wanted to ski “Vista” a great looking ski run that was opened some 3-4 seasons ago at Park City Mountain resort.

Even though the snow was slushy and pretty disgusting, I liked this new run a lot and want to try it just after a foot of snow has fallen upon it. It parallels the old “New Temptation” run that was recently renamed “Ligety Split...”

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The “Vailisation” of Park City...

With two of its resorts owned by Vail it's interesting to observe how culture might be changing in Park City. So far, very little, with the exception of Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR) going backward in the way it handles RFID tags to provide skiers hands-free access to the ski lifts. Instead of the turnstile, it's the gun which seems less practical and more labor intensive.

Another fact is that PCMR is getting more crowded as many Epic pass holders prefer its ease of access over Canyons. Other than that, there's Vail's promise to invest $50 million this summer to connect PCMR and Canyons with a gondola, upgrade two other lifts, rebuild a lodge, adding snow-making at Canyons and renaming the whole package PCMR.

Quite a toll order that should be crowned with a united management, uniforms, new procedures, and materialize in the largest ski resort in the USA. With that, much of the change is yet to come and should be fully visible in about 10 month!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

“The Interview”

Last night, I finally watched the controversial movie about the assassination of Kim jong un on Netflix. My wife didn't have the fortitude to go through the boring first part, but I soldiered on and watch the entire comedy.

Yes, “The Interview” is a comedy and as most of us know, these are much harder to make than drama. There are in fact very few good comedies and by the end of the (too long) show, I had laughed a few time and thought the writers had done a fair job. I gave the movie a 7 out of 10.

Not quite a waste of my precious time!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Skiing easy, easier, easiest

Among the multiple facets and angles skiing is looked at, the sport is generally seen as a great way to having lots of fun. For some, the experience can be one of contemplation, for many it's the thrill of gliding and the pleasure of freedom and the impression of flying that sensation brings along.

For many proficient skiers, it's a combination of speed, strength and perfect execution. For life-long skiers like me who are no longer young, the activity can be a blend of smooth and efficient execution of all the gestures that compose its counter-intuitive technique.

It's hard to describe; a perfect combination of minimalism, lightness and very subtle gestures. I absolutely don't want to get hurt and I want to maximize the strength that still inhabits me, so this has now become the ultimate way to ski!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Getting up early for work!

Seems like another era and another world when I had to get up in the wee hours of the day, to go to work. Sometimes it felt great, but in most instances, I dreaded it. My mind was still fast asleep and totally unprepared to embrace any challenge. I just wasn't in synch with my mission for the day.

These feelings were revisited these past three days as we volunteered early (we had to show up for work at 6:50 am) during the Sundance Film Festival. I simply had forgotten how bad it felt to be pushed out of my slumber and my bed by a disruptive alarm clock, and then prepare to get to work.

This obligation had vanished for too long from my life, and when it suddenly returned it was as much shocking as it felt appalling!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Another attempt at measuring skiing

By now, it's clear that vertical drop alone doesn't quite fairly measure skiing in terms of skills, intensity and energy expended. It's only one facet of the whole picture.

It certainly belongs to the skier's dashboard, but must be considered along with speed, terrain grade, snow conditions (groomed, bumpy deep or crud snow) and snow qualities (light powder, heavier snow, slush, etc.).
Wow! That gets complicated. Just study this table, tell me if you get it or if you would have computing the whole thing differently!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Risk, fun and responsibility

There is rarely a day when I don't see some spectacular tricks achieved on skis, mountain bike or in any other sports.

Young folks and young men in particular are living their life extremely dangerously, most often than not, without stopping one moment and wondering how their search for adrenaline and extreme sensations affects people around them.

The individuals in question might be their parents, siblings, partners, kids or friends. If they ever considered it they might slow down a bit and think twice before putting their life and health into harm way, but recklessness firmly belongs into the extreme sports vocabulary.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Skiing with other folks

Most of the time, I ski alone or with my wife. Less often do I get a chance to ski with my kids and grandson. This said, I hardly ever ski with other buddies. Today was the exception, and it became a permanent case of “hurry up and wait”.
It first began with waiting in the locker room to get my friends outfitted in their gear, then we had to rendez-vous at some lodge with the rest of the group. More wait as two of us were skiing significantly faster than the majority and had to wait at the end of each run.

Then there was the stop for coffee and some bite to eat, then I screw up and the better skier and I got separated from the group resulting in more waiting time! Finally we returned to the locker, waited a few more moments and I made it home.

Bottom line: Lots of wasted time and very little skiing; the high cost of being social!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

One chairlift, so many runs!

In the late 80s and early 90s, I used to get most of my skiing on a rickety, fixed-grip, two-seater chairlift called “Ski Team” in Park City. It served three runs: Silver King, Willy's and Erika Gold. Six or seven years ago, the old rig was upgraded to Crescent a detachable quad lift that serves more terrain where more runs have been cut.
Yesterday, I managed to ski for about two and a half hours on that lift, ski about 20,000 feet vertical by skiing eleven runs on ten different trails. That's progress!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

State of the Union

This year's state of the union speech by President Obama was forceful, upbeat and perfectly delivered. It lasted about an hour, which didn't appear to be something Speaker of the House John Boehner enjoyed much.

His facial micro-expressions show how Mr. Boehner is really feeling about what the President is saying, which is unfettered contempt for the President's speech. A more generous explanation would be that he always get food poisoning that evening, and should refrain from eating sushi from that food truck that parks near the Capitol Building!

Monday, January 19, 2015

A joke a day?

It is said that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but a good laugh might be even more salutary than the fruit of temptation. No one is denying that something fun makes us all feel better and scientists have some convincing elements to prove it.

Some researchers have found that the mere act of smiling or frowning are just what's needed to feel these particular emotions. Beyond mimicking, however, laughter release endorphins and dopamine, plus the response to relaxation is enhanced.

It's also said to reduce pain as well as stress and bring along more creativity and problem-solving abilities. All that scientific evidence adds that laughing helps memory and make us better social animals.

Of course, the list of benefits doesn't end there, but suffices to say that I have decided to learn one good joke a day, practice it well and deliver it to my spouse when it sounds perfect. I'll keep you posted about the results!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The nature of slick, steep snow runs

Snow grooming is nice and allows skiers who don't like bumpy terrain, don't have good knees and still want to enjoy a day on the snow, to have a great time.

The problem is that on steeper slopes, ski edges can bite as much and tend to slip away from the now surface. By so doing they both “polish” and further compact the snow surface, making it slicker and harder. This means that as a ski day goes on conditions get worse.

Nothing that can be done except finding a structuring tool that could be part of the snow groomer and would make the steep slope “grabbier” but far less enjoyable for the first users of the day...

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Selling and buying...

This one is mostly about love... It just came to my mind today. When we're young, we don't need to be sold (on someone's love). Most of us are all in a buying mood, so we buy; our buying pattern often seems carelessly while in reality it is mostly instinctual.

When we grow older, the selling isn't so natural anymore so we need to sell and often times, in spite of our best effort, no one is willing to buy. Probably because the demand has sharply fallen or isn't even there. I'll say no more.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Free speech, the Pope and Charlie-Hebdo

Recently, Pope Francis made some compelling comments about the provocative risks linked to free-speech. Yesterday, a friend of mine sent me a PDF copy of the French satirical publication.

As I expected, I found it in very poor taste and wouldn't purchase it under any circumstances. This probably is a matter of personal taste.

While I still feel that free-speech is a unalienable right, it entails a share of risk and the delivery style of certain form of free-speech, like the one used by Charlie-Hebdo can be quite inflammatory and provoke unforeseen consequences, not unlike what happens in road rage incidents. In such cases, good common sense remains the best way to act.

Once more, it's not so much what we say, but rather how we say it.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Morning warm-up...

It never used to be that way; only a couple of years ago, when I skied, I jumped right into the action and started full-throttle. These days, I act more carefully; I'm not quite sure that I still can do it, so I need to reassure myself.
It's as if I needed to warm myself up, but after a couple of runs, it feels (almost) like the good old days. It must be the engine that is becoming temperamental or, God forbid, is undergoing a Diesel transformation!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Has winter finally arrived?

The long awaited season's big snowfall finally arrived on Monday and blanketed the Park City resorts with 20” of new snow. Conditions are not perfect yet, but they're now much better and the dense snow will work well to provide a better base. 
After a rather athletic skiing day yesterday, my legs feel stiff this morning... Are we ever going to catch up and have an ideal snow cover? We all don't know and it's probably much better that way!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Charlie Hebdo's cover

I wasn't impressed when I saw the picture of Charlie Hebdo cover page. Frankly, I couldn't find anything worth exposing to the face of some fanatic Islamist, but perhaps it's just me, someone that has never appreciated that publication in the first place.

I think the French are focusing their efforts on the least effective sides of the problem. They should be all over meeting with all French Muslim clerics, planning a constructive aftermath of that barbaric terrorist act and offering a serious action plan to the French population and showing more serious determination than simply teasing the world with a picture and a caption that are weak on all counts.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Morning tracks...

Another morning and another thin layer of snow. Just half and inch thick, but the right depth to encourage all kinds of creatures to get out in the wee hours of the morning.

From rabbits, to raccoons and deer, everyone was out, plus me of course, running on a thin, shock-absorbing, white carpet. Pretty cool scene. I feel so lucky to be able to still do it...

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Il y a trente-cinq ans ...

C’était début Janvier 1980, et cette date m'a marqué de différentes façons. D'abord, c'était ma première visite à Park City ; cela se passait à l'occasion d'une réunion de vente pour les fixations de ski Look et ensuite, il n'y avait pas assez de neige pour skier.

Nous avions pourtant tous apporté tout notre matériel, mais la neige n'était pas au rendez-vous et nous n'avons fait que de nous « réunir » dans les nouveaux condos du Racquet Club où nous séjournions. Il y avait Philippe Blime, Jean-François Deschamps, Dennis Harrington et John Pike entre autre « personnalités ».

Au lieu de skier, nous avons fini par nous frustrer avec une gamme de fixations dont la plupart des modèles était invendables et, en notre for intérieur, nous haïssions tous ce que nous faisions. Les conditions de neige étaient à l'image de l'ambiance et aussi médiocres qu'aujourd'hui. C'est ça, juste 35 ans plus tard, , sauf que, dans ce temps là, la neige artificielle n'existait pas encore dans les Montagnes Rocheuses !

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Freestyle, anyone?

Why is freestyle skiing (mogul, aerial, slope-side and boarder/skier-cross) not gaining much popularity compared to alpine?

Chiefly because skiing is being spread far too thin for a sport that is practiced by only a small population, also because available funds to run a myriad of competitions are scarce, sponsors can't afford to be everywhere and most importantly, because of the subjectivity that characterize the judging of these satellite events.

As I have said before, these ancillary form of skiing would be better served if their competitions would be closely tied to alpine events.

Friday, January 9, 2015

What should the French do?

In the aftermath of the brutal terrorist attack in Paris, France must now effectively address its Muslim problem. My suggestions are simple and go deep into the root causes of the crisis.

First, engage the Muslim religious leaders by asking them to publicly renounce sharia law, polygamy any form of abuse or any inflammatory rhetoric.

Second, encourage the Muslim population to embrace Western culture and put their religious garb in the closet.

Third, ask the French from European extraction to be more welcoming, trusting and inclusive toward its current immigrant population from all origin.

These simple steps would speak louder than a monster gathering an go a very long way in fixing the problem.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Je suis Charlie

I briefly was a fan of Hara-Kiri, Charlie Hebdo's predecessor, when I was a teenager, but could not quite swallow their kind of humor that at times made me cringe. This was just me, but I am unabashedly in favor of free expression.
Today, there's of course one big elephant in France's living room that no one dares to address and it's the growing cultural gap between Muslims and French people, forced to live together. It's much more than a religious divide, it's a split between fundamental values, modern and medieval, civilized and barbaric.

Now, my home country must begin to decide if it want to continue to accommodate what clearly doesn't belong to its heritage if it doesn't want its street to start resembling the streets and the bazaars of the Arab world.

To address the situation, someone will have to put his or her foot down and the process will be hurtful, long, costly and ugly.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Islam overdose

France brought cheap North African labor to assemble its Renault, Peugeot and Citroën; today it must now deal with the legacy of anger, high unemployment and continued largesse with a population that increasingly refuses to integrate its culture, values, and play by civilized Western standards.

This is a strong lesson for all enlightened and advanced countries to reject and rein in multiculturalism and, above all, absurd and backward religious beliefs that belong to the pre-middle-ages.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The weakest link...

On December 24, my Voice over IP box went bust and my fixed telephone line along with it! I immediately called the VoiP company that said that a replacement device would immediately be on its way to me.

Reality proved quite different as I only received it today! When I unpacked the replacement, I realized that the problem wasn't with the Cisco-made device itself, but with its lowly AC/DC adapter that wasn't supplying enough current.

So, once more, I learned something new and it was another reminder that the weakest link in any system is always what we should be worried about, not necessarily the 800 pound gorilla staring at us!

Monday, January 5, 2015

How Snowbird compares...

Yesterday was a special ski day, as I took my daughter skiing snowbird and showed her around this remarkable resort. Along the way we also skied with my grandson and his parents. Another beautiful day in a wonderful environment. 
My daughter in law who came from France, but learned to ski in Utah asked how Snowbird compared, first to other resorts in America, then to European ski places, just for skiing, not so much for its resort life.

While I think that Snowbird stands right behind Whistler-Blackcomb in Canada, it's much harder to pinpoint which alpine resort comes close. I think of course about Avoriaz, my old stomping grounds, but still believe that Snowbird holds its own, is a good if not a tad better, sans the interconnect that is attached to Avoriaz and may soon extend to Snowbird too.

What is sure is that the mountain with its fast lifts and steep slopes has the potential to make grown and strong skiers quit early in the day. By 3 pm, there was not a soul left on the mountain; a testament to its effect on leg muscles!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Learning through crisis...

I'm convinced that victories don't teach as much as defeats, and along the same lines, we don't learn much – if anything – through smooth sailing, whether it's in regular life, business or sports.
The crisis forces us to focus on the urgency, study the situation, go to bed and wake up the next morning with hopefully, one or more, solutions. It is also hurtful, but brings us so much in return, if only some modicum of appreciation when things aren't too bad. Right, “no pain, no gain!”

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Another good reason not to despair!

For one full day and what a day, the first one of the new year, my entire family struggled with figuring out how to apply instructions for lighting up a new gas valve on a water heater, and by the end of the day, we couldn't do it.

It's only the next day that the plumber, after spending an hour on the phone with the supplier could make it work. Reason: the instructions were dead wrong! Someone, along the way, got the instruction written, printed on a sheet of hard plastic and affixed on the appliance without even checking them.

Seems unbelievable in this day and age, but a good example of human laziness stupidity at work. So when you can't make things work, never, ever despair and for a second, believe you're dumb!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Time to refuel!

Recently, someone asked me how I felt about my recent birthday, and my short answer is that I feel the need for some serious refueling. Cruising aimlessly through the end of my existence isn't an acceptable option. We just talked about that subject a few days ago.
To put this in clearer terms, I need to replenish my life reservoir with some worthy cause, some new passion or a new project that feels fun and sweep me off my feet.

I first thought this would be a great to have as a new year resolution, but that date has come and gone and it just is another meaningless milestone after all. I need to actively search at what this new focus should be by simply being serious about it. I think I touched on the right point.

If I don't work hard to determine what that new stage in my life will be it may never land on my laps, so this behooves me to leave no stone unturned and find that “fuel for my future!”

Thursday, January 1, 2015

When the obvious is invisible

Sometime, obvious issues seem impossible to see. We somehow assume they can't exist or we don't look well enough to see them as they should appear. I let an error passed me by when we designed our new home which I thought didn't exist because I didn't look well enough from all directions.

Just this to say that we're never quite free of making mistakes and we should always factor them in as permanent possibilities in any project. Not a reassuring thought, but a constant reminder of our human frailty.

Happy New Year!