Thursday, April 30, 2015

Beyond someone's wildest dreams

Back in the mid-sixties, Avoriaz was built above Morzine, France, to become the first French ski resort without cars. Just horse-drawn sleds and pedestrian traffic. A bucolic and quiet place if you see what I mean. I guess, Zermatt in Switzerland was the forerunner of that trend.

Fast forward 50 years and today, Avoriaz has become a victim of its all success as it's beds are filled to the rim and its slopes are now saturated by skiers and snowboarders. So much so, that collisions between users are a daily nuisance.

Lack of space and widespread bad manners being cited as the main reasons. I was told that this winter season alone, five ski instructors where hit in such collisions. When I hear that, I can't help but think that, with the advent of Vail Resorts in Park City, we're now doomed to experience the same crowded future.

To avoid this, I'd either need to quit the sport, ski less or take on alpine touring!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The time trap

Being “retired” can be dangerous in terms of time-management. There seemingly is no need for it as time seems to roll out with both regularity and predictability and there's also that illusion of inexhaustible time-abundance.

Reality, in fact, is that there never seems to be enough time in a day to even accomplish the most mundane tasks and as a result, projects are always running after me in a totally uncontrolled manner. Should I return to a more regimented life style in order to enjoy more relaxation? As paradoxical as that sounds, this might be the key to a truly laid back lifestyle...

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

What a difference 30 years make !

About three decades ago, my wife and I visited Park City together, for the first time. I snap a few photos, and one from them just from the Aerie, an area that commands great view over our town and its valley. They were far few homes and just a few small trees.
A few days ago, I repeated the shot so I could compare the magnitude of the change. Today, growth has intervened both in terms of construction and vegetation and the place is so different. When I looked at the mirror this morning, I also came to the same conclusion: I too, had become immensely different!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Communicating with fists...

The French ski instructors association is loosely ran by its ski school directors, and one week or so ago, one of them couldn't find the right words to answer a complaint about mandatory retirement by one of its members and outstanding skier, Jean-Philippe Sanson, former French ski team member that I had met 43 years ago in Australia.

So when the argument escalated, insults began to fuse, plates began to fly and gestures took over as no one seemed to find the right words, Monsieur Cyprien Durand, Megève's ski school director (yeah, the famous French ski resort), used his physical superiority to forcefully make his point and in the process demolished the plaintiff's face.

The poor Sanson was hospitalized for a week and will need to undergo reconstructive surgery. He's suing his aggressor, who – in my opinion - should flee France and join ISIS where he will be fully able to express himself in his own savage style!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The danger of very high education

There are many people who have done well for themselves without even setting foot in college. This is not a universal recipe for success, but it shows that sometimes, not relying on a big label like PhD or even MBA. helps some folks keep their mind grounded and tend to maintain and often stimulate the exercise of common sense.

These don't have to claim “I've got an MBA” to comfort themselves and their judgment. Common sense is a wonderful quality is something that is – for most of us – standard equipment, but that we don't use nearly enough when issues get cloudy and things become confused around us...

Saturday, April 25, 2015

When “tunnel vision” beats no vision!

History of mankind has been changed for the better by individuals who had a strong vision. For every visionary though, there's always a crowd that harkens to the past and strongly believes that no change is better than trying anything new, even if venturing into something original and different mean addressing a major concern or solving a serious problem.

This seems to be what is happening with the Utah Front Range's Mountain Accord process. Transportation problems, huge carbon footprint and pollution have emerged as crucial issues and demand some bold and innovative solutions.

Along with interconnecting our six resorts, mass transit is one of them, as far as accessing our delicate canyons is concerned. This is why the creation of rail and tunnel is being suggested as part of a possible solution. If that's what it takes, this kind of “tunnel vision” is better than no vision at all! In thinking about what the Wasatch Front region ought to do, I had come to the same realization a few years ago.

As shocking as they may be to some, these proposals still must be fairly evaluated within the whole Mountain Accord thought process. These may appear as daring concepts, but I always thought that of all places, America was the one where progressive thinking was embraced? Am I missing something?

When I hear naysayers so bitter about what is supposed to be a civil and constructive dialogue, I'm reminded that retrograde folks fear change the most and that game-changing evolution always demands faith, courage and entrepreneurship.

Friday, April 24, 2015

My farming roots

Within me, these roots run both deep and shallow. Deep because I was raised by parents that for the most part of their lives were subsistence farmers, until mountain tourism pulled them out of their misery.

They're also shallow because I never was much of a “green thumb” myself. This said, I tend to our small veggie garden because we love fresh salads and herbs (the only crops that grow reasonably well at Park City's high elevation) but I hate working the soil.
For the past two days, I'm doing just that, toiling to turn the dirt around and get it ready for the growing season. My back cringes, my stamina is clearly not up to the task, but I grit my teeth, do the work and hopefully this physical torture will pay off...

Bon appétit!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

First visit at IFA!

The IFA coops are the retail stores of the Intermountain Farmers Association found mostly in Utah, but also in Idaho, Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico.

For years, I drove by the Salt Lake City branch without paying much attention to it and just assuming that it must have been an uninteresting farm supply warehouse. All of this changed when my wife and I decided to step into that place and boy, were we amazed by all the treasures we discovered.

Not just farm implements and tools, as we expected, but also clothing, boots of all kinds, including cowboy boots for tots, live chicks, rabbits and everything needed to become a bee-keeper to name just a few of the innumerable items we saw inside that country store.
It sure looked liked an other era, before the age of big box retailing and the internet. Even if you don't need seeds, chick and Carhartt overalls, just go in and let yourself be captivated by the variety and uniqueness of its unfathomable product offering. We'll definitely be back!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Back into gardening!

No more skiing, so it's time to retrieve my green thumb and move from white to emerald in the color register. It's also time to begin what I hate the most on this first day of gardening: Bringing my lawn mower and trimmer back to life.

That's right, resurrecting these reluctant machines that visibly don't want to remember how to start after a winter of idleness. I spent a good hour doing just that, and just when I was about to give up both devices showed some vital signs and rose from the dead. Now, I'm tired and I will resume garden work tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The French way...

I'm currently trying to get things right for me with the French administration and it's not easy. For months now, I've been trying to get some administrative details ironed out and it's so difficult. Impossibility to deal with the administration online.
The web site is only partially functional, allowing some information to filter through but not interaction, plus there's no possibility of email.

The only one way to communicate is snail mail and when it's processed, it's not answered with the needed details which forces me to telephone – when I can get someone picking up on the other end – and pull information out of a robot-like bureaucrat.

France is definitely not catching up in the area of technology and no wonder it's crumbling under the weight of public spending that are more than 55% of the country GDP!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Time for new ski bindings?

Ski bindings evolution (just like ski boots and even skis) has been woefully lagging behind modern technology and it's past time for a brand new design.

Now, I believe I have an idea that is simple, easy to produce and install and would work much better that the contraptions offered on today's market.

It just needs to be developed a bit. So, give it some time, a bit of leeway, hope that the Holy Spirit will inspire me big times and just stay tuned!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Snowbird : When April feels just like May!

Yesterday was another perfect spring day, so grandson, son and grandpa all went skiing at Snowbird, enjoying the crisp morning snow and the warming sun. The quality skiing only lasted till lunch time when everything suddenly turned into mush.

Without much snow, the season seems ahead by one full month; the snow cover was already thin and unless winter returns with a vengeance (we've seen that before in Utah), I give the resort another four weeks at the most. We'll see...

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Great French ski instructors race

Every April, I follow the best I can, the results from the great french ski instructors race. The main one is alpine – of course – a slalom (the other events like snowboard, skiers cross, telemark and cross-country are just “token” ones, just to be politically correct, I guess) and I can marvel at the young and the old competitors who compete for that national spotlight.

I have friends and folks I know, in their mid sixties and older still, who compete and there's even my high-school gym teacher who still does it at 74! It's unique and it provides a forum to those who love the sport and still want to be on the spotlight for a day or two, at the end of a long ski season!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Human Dream and Human Exceptionalism

I get tired of hearing about the “American Dream”, now the “Chinese Dream” and every so often about the “American exceptionalism”.

Well, with globalization, the end of western hegemony and the rise of developing nations, these dreams are being revisited and in many cases, diluted.

I have never bought into that theory anyway, have never had faith in these populist slogans and won't support that expression. After all, I feel more like a world citizen.

I prefer something more universal, more planetary, like the human dream and the human exceptionalism. That's as simple as that!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A representation of race relations in America?

On April 4, while we were vacationing, 45 minutes away from North Charleston, South Carolina, a police officer shot and killed a black, unarmed 50-year-old resident of the city, after a traffic stop.
To my eyes, the video shot a bystander that has since circled the world is symbolic of all the obstructive harassment that the Republican Congress has inflicted upon Barak Obama through his current mandate as President. I won't say more.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

I just knew it...

This is what I saw and the conversation I had with Mr. Winter after I peeked through my window, early this morning:

Mr. Winter: “I just forgot to spray some snow over Park City this winter; can I begin now?”

Go11: “Yeah right, you lazy bum, one season late and bazillions of dollars short! You can keep your dumps for next November; anyway I don't have time to talk to you, I'm going skiing!”

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

When we're all looking for perfection...

Today's technology keeps on helping us make great choices and would want us to believe that perfect choices are all very close to our reach, so we keep searching and leaving no stone unturned in hope of finding the perfect job, the ideal business opportunity, the best product or the ideal partner.
We need to be careful though, because “perfect” too often is illusory and always seem to follow the law of diminishing returns, occurring only one day late and a dollar short. This might suggest that a good solution peppered with a few sprinkles of imperfection might be – after all – good enough and all we need, so let's resist perfectionism in our quest for... perfection!

Monday, April 13, 2015

A sad accident

Accidents are never joyous, but at least they sometimes provide more fright than anything else.

Yesterday, after I had finished my morning skiing, around 2:30 pm, Rafi Uzielbo, a Deer Valley Resort ski instructor for seven years, died after he collided with a chairlift tower, bringing a tragic end to the resort's last day of the ski season.

He was 42 old and a resident of Park City. He apparently collided with one of the lift tower of the Sterling Express chairlift while skiing on Birdseye run. A sad day indeed for all skiers...

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Closing day at Deer Valley

Today's closing day at Deer Valley was a fun event placed under a wonderful sun to warm up a cool air that kept the snow better, much longer during the day. There were few skiers though and I shot a video for the resort to document the scene. Enjoy it!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Please, deliver us from fear!

I'm not fearful when it comes to skiing down the mountain or biking down a narrow, steep trail, but I'm fearful about too many other small things that have nothing to do with my survival nor with any rational explanation and it's ironic that some of these little trivial things can bother me and in still too many instances prevent me to act in my best self interest.
Fear is the most annoying and debilitating problem we all have and is not that easy to eradicate. Seems though that there should be a way to get rid of that pesky malady!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Needing a vacation from... a vacation!

Vacations are supposed to provide us a break, but they're also chock-full of change, and with change, no matter how mild and innocuous, comes some measure of stress, which in the end never fails to tire us.
Then there's also jet lag, change of altitude and temperature that add to the burden and make us feel like we need another vacation for the time off we just had!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

From sea back to ski

I've never taken a beach vacation during the winter season and it was a bit weird returning to the snow covered mountains after having sand in my shoes for one full week. I thought I would have forgotten skiing, but snow just fell today, giving me an extra incentive to go out and shred.

No time for it today, this will have to wait till tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Creative bifurcation

In life things can either go on forever or change all the time. It up to us and our particular circumstances. As we grow older, we don't require change as much and, often as a result, be become intolerent of it, so we don't ever want to create a path to change.

This is both easy and dangerous. Dangerous because it sits us even deeper inside our rut and makes us prisonners. This is why change, forks in the road, or just a simple bifurcation make a lot of sense and can have saving virtues.

As I see it, the bifurcation that I see can be an adventure in creation, a formative challenge, an opportunity to keep growing, exploring some new paths and blunting routine and boredom. With all this in mind, is it time for me to bifurcate?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Could I live here?

Wherever I go, I like to ask myself that simple question; would I – or rather – could I live here? As far as the greater Charleston area of South Carolina is concerned, the answer is an unqualifed “no”. My reasons for this are twofold: First, I'm not a marine person and second, I hate any form of hot and sticky weather.
I love the beaches though, but only during the off season and for up four to five days maximum. So at least for now, you know why I'm so attached to my mountains and can resolve myself to leave them for long...

Monday, April 6, 2015

Quiet day at Kiawah

Today, the young gard drove to see the Masters' training at Augusta, Georgia, and the early morning hours the house is totally calm.

Not one noise; I'm up, my wife is still asleep and the quiet time that surrounds us feels indeed like a very precious commodity. What are we going to do with a special day to ourselves? We don't know yet; most likely nothing much at all...

Biking on the beach and taking it super easy. We'll see!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter out of the mountains

I don't remember having experience many Easter Sundays outside of my mountain environment. Perhaps just eight, while we were leaving around New York from 77 to 85, but that's about it.

So this one Easter spent in Charleston, SC, is just number nine, which in percentage is significant, but doesn't add much in terms of memories. In fact, even in the mountains, Easter was just another ski day, mostly spring skiing in theory, but often quite wintry in reality.
I can survice an Easter Day without skis on, but not too many. The main bonus of course is that I won't get hurt on the snow and I must admit that we had lots of fun riding our bikes on a beautiful beach, as a family, early in the day, so Happy Easter to all!

Saturday, April 4, 2015


Vacations? What's this? I have a tough time relaxing, in fact, I really can't. This my nature, my DNA and I'm totally fine with it.
After all, who said letting one's hair down should be necessary. I for sure don't need it, so screw the whole concept of vacation. My way of life is constant action!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Mountain bike training?

Being on a beach and riding a rental bike might be an excellent way to get primed for the cycling season...

The bikes are rudimentary and the seat hurts as it should early in the year, it's easy to ride when the wind pushes you and always punishing on the way back, but and all, in all it's good exercise and a perfect way to get in shape for mountain biking in the upcoming weeks!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

My waning love for travel

Many years ago, travel always got me excited; I couldn't wait to pack my bags and go. Now, I wait until the very last moment to scramble and get my stuff ready and my enthusiasm of days past is no where to be found inside my luggage.

I still enjoy it, but I might have overstretched my capacity at moving around during my jet-setting years. I have become a “home-buddy”, a trait I neither sought nor wanted to be associated with in the old days...

As time unravels, it does irreversible damage and must erode our adventurous leanings. These days, the only ways I travel superbly are in my car, on my mountain bike and of course – on my skis!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Hillary's facial language

I never like Hillary Clinton, especially ever since her unlucky run for the presidency in 2008. She can be a piece of work and she certainly sports a style of her very own.

Some of her verbal expressions and her facial language say a lot about her determination at all cost and her drive propelled by an incredibly inflated ego.

She is the consumater “smurket” and she reminds me of someone (female too) I used to work with. Even though she (still) stands great chances to prevail in 2016, I certainly won't vote for her, For one thing my vote won't count in Utah and I don't want to give her the pleasure of adding my approval to her popular vote tally. Now you know!