Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Making mountain biking safer

While a vehicle may kill you when you're biking on the road, it's even easier to get hurt while riding your mountain bike, with some gruesome scratches and spectacular blood stains all over.

For the most part the danger inherent with mountain-biking are rocks on the trail, trees and bushes along the sides, many poorly designed turns and single tracks that are too narrow and mask good visibility. Should all trails be improved to address these dangers?

No, just the easier and most accessible ones that are aimed at more conservative and older users. This would enrich the participation and make it accessible to a large number of adult beginners and senior riders.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Fearlessness and success

At dinner, last night, my wife and I were talking about about fear, risk taking and success in life.

We kind of came to the conclusion that the meek were not quite inheriting the fair share of this terrestrial kingdom. It generally takes guts, tolerance for risk, multiple failures and aggressive perseverance to make it big in life.
We then reviewed people all around us, pegged a “risk-taking-grade” to each one of them and this concise exercise went a long way in confirming our assumptions...

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Managing the heat wave...

This is it! The heat wave is now upon us and I've never felt it as intensed and prolonged in Park City, at least this early in the season...

In spite of it, we are managing its extra calories quite well; first, we're lucky that the humidity remains very low and, as a result, the nights stay very cool. In the morning and through 4 pm, our super well insulated new house feels perfectly comfortable.

How long will this last? At the very least another two-weeks, and hopefully this weather from hell, in what we normally is our terrestrial paradise, will be interspersed with a few rain showers, but between the cool nights and the ass-saver A/C in the late afternoon, we won't shrivel too much and may, in fact, tan a little more.

For one thing, we'll on getting out early in the morning and late in the day; I'll be on my mountain-bike in a few moments!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Of fear and love

In the closing statement of “The Lion in Love”, French writer Jean de La Fontaine expresses the irrational influence of love on human affairs:
“O, tyrant Love! when held by you, We may to prudence bid adieu.”

Yesterday, as I was watching my grandson ready to take a high jump at the swimming pool, I thought about fear in about the same way and was paraphrasing my countryman:
“O, tyrant Fear! when held by you, We may to fun and success bid adieu.”

Friday, June 26, 2015

The tide is turning in America...

What an incredible week! The confederate banner brought down to the level of the Nazi's swastika, Obamacare upheld and gay marriage okay in our 50 states, and I thought that America would never, ever change... that fast!
The next shoe to drop will be the abolition of the second amendment, or at the very least, some arm control legislation with mean teeth into it. I'll bet you we'll see it within the next 5 years!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Learning to be content with what's left!

Many years ago, I wondered - and sort of dreaded - how it would be like to grow older, mostly in the physical sense; I was assuming that my mind would stay clear for a while...

It's true that few records can be found to address that subject of aging and objectively the downhill path. I've tried to find some kind of stats about it, but perhaps because there's nothing to rejoice about, they seem totally hidden from view and that's one of the reason I keep personal record and try to measure my own rate of decline.

What I found so far is that the key to happiness in growing old is to be content with whatever we still have, acknowledge at the the same time that we're no longer the way we used to be and that there's nothing wrong with that. Have I fully assimilated that new reality yet? Probably not, but I'm committed to work on it!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Bode Miller's lingering agony

In recent days, interviews about Bode Miller has sprung everywhere, teasing his fans about whether or not he'll continue racing. This maybe the way Bode wants it, but it's not too productive.

If Bode seriously entertained the idea of coming back, he would be training right at this moment and not worrying about his fading image. Let's be realistic, will you? Bode had an explosive, early career when he was in his late teens and has lasted through his mid-thirties. In some ways, he reminds me of Tiger Wood:
Prodigies, early successes, piling up records upon records, but both having a terrible time accepting the law of “First in, First out” or FIFO, as inventory managers like to call it. Instead, Bode still believe that his absence of fear will make up for his aging body and equal absence of training. He's only kidding himself, his sponsors and his fans.

Being a wonderful champion is not just about winning now and then, but also about making a clean exit and not building a raft of dreams just to sink into it...

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Learning lessons in learning

To learn, things have to be fun. For instance, my grandson has more fun and learns a lot more when I take him skiing on a bumpy, groovy kid slope than on an otherwise uniform and boring trail.

Whenever we teach anything and whatever the subject, we should always make sure that the process is fun, engaging and always enticing the participant to ask for much more. This should be the essential requirement of any learning program or process.

So question must always be: “Where's the fun?” If it's nowhere to be found, go back to the drawing board and re-engineer the whole process. The payback is guaranteed to be commensurate with the creative effort put in towards achieving the dual goal of learning and having a memorable time!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Ready for a scorcher?

Pope Francis just said it: Man just screwed up the world. Weather is changing and we better do something about it! I agree wholeheartedly. Next week's heat wave is going to soak Park City and give us a preview of what Hell is gonna feel like...
Of course, my favorite Pope forgot to mention that besides capitalistic greed, it's also the various religions' birth policies that are behind the warming trend too,as we would never have gotten so deep into heat if the planet were not so overpopulated.

His next encyclical message better deal with some stringent birth control, widespread sterilization and mandatory abortion if he intends to remain my friend. But I digressed enough. Next week will be hellish and I intend to run my A/C full blast, even though I still know of climate change nay-sayers that still pretend we don't need it in Park City!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Waiting for the other shoe to drop...

Things are going well, even perfectly. No reason to worry or fear anything and then, bam! Something bad happens, unforeseen, often not surprising, but quite unpleasant nonetheless.

How do we respond? In many instances, we love to deny it and wish we could stay inside our comfy cocoon and ignore the whole new situation. After years of life experience, I generally don't dwell on accepting or denying that new reality that just crashed on me. I just draw a blank on its unpleasant taste and immediately go to work in an effort to curing the problem.
I waste no time, I'm always propelled by an ingrained sense of urgency that some may take for over-reaction on my part, but it puts me instantly on the path to mitigating the unpleasant event. For me, this works beautifully, at least until some other shoe drops again!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Another concert season underway...

This last Wednesday, we attended the first outdoor concert of the season at Deer Valley. We got there early and were thankful to ourselves for doing it!

The crowd grew and grew and by the end of the gig, the parking lot was filled with cars. The weather was absolutely perfect. The two bands that played “Pasadena” and “Strangers” coming from both Coasts of the country were great, but the attendance payed scant attention to them. Instead they displayed themselves, like any respectable peacock would during mating season.

I'm not talking of 17 years old, but about mature, even aging adults on the way to their own “sunset.” If these concerts are not becoming a “meat market” of sort, I don't know what they are. This said, we had plenty of fun and even snapped a (lousy) selfie of both of us!

Friday, June 19, 2015

First salad of the season!

We've never harvested salad from our veggie garden so early! This is a record and I can't wait to taste it at lunch today...

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A test for what's worth worrying about...

We all worry too much and a few days ago, I read or heard that if something that worried us had so little impact on our lives that we would have forgotten about it or its consequences five years down the road, it was not worth making a big fuss about. I must remember this!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Single world currency?

This concept isn't quite new. In fact, it's been floated since the 16th century, and came close to being instituted after World War II. A universal currency would be much more efficient and mean an end to chronic currency crises around the world; it wouldn't be subject to exchange rate fluctuations because there would be no competing currencies to exchange against.

The scary news is that it would require the creation of a central body formed to oversee the monetary policy for a single world currency. Think of another U.N. or a branch thereof with all the dysfunction knows to that kind of agency. In fact, a private initiative would be highly preferable; an alternative like Bitcoin that would take the world by storm and make everyone leave the state controlled monetary systems in drove.
Something based not on the value of gold but on a vital human need we use today and will use forever, let's say a unit of energy, like the Watt. I like this later incarnation...

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

House hunting, 30 years ago!

Just today, on June 16, 1985, I came to Park City to find a house for the family and I zeroed-in on one that I liked.

Since my wife had stayed in New York with the children, I went to Radio Shack and rented a Sony camcorder that recorded full-size VHS cassettes, to give her an idea what kind of home I was suggesting. I've since lost that footage, but I remember that the end result was dark and made it quite difficult to see what we were getting into.

The house, that we would later purchase following my spouse's stamp of approval during a quick trip she took there two weeks later, had a bull's eye window just over the entrance door.

I remembered catching a glimpse of the top of Jupiter (you couldn't see it today, the trees have grown tremendously and blocked all mountain views) and there was a leftover snow patch. It was a bit smaller than the one I snapped today, three decades later...

Monday, June 15, 2015

Fun at the Park City Dirt Jump Park

In past years, I would take my grand-son to this dirt park, tucked behind our neighborhood firehouse, just to watch kids do their tricks, but this year I've already taken him there twice to let him experience it in person.

Park City Recreation built that fun park in the late summer of 2005 as a temporary site, just to gauge interest. Of course, it worked, and since then, the park has gone through an incredible transformation. This is already the 9th year of operation for the Park City Dirt Jump Park!

It is part of the City's recreation department and all monies for building it were allocated through the Neighborhood Parks Capital Improvement Fund and also through the county’s grant application process. Today, there are youth camps and adult clinics available. My grandson is now hooked!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Hooked on Crédit Agricole...

I still have a few Euros sitting on a bank account that I opened more than 40 years ago, when I lived in France.

Since May 8, I've been battling to get that money back and it's been a major struggle. Employees at the bank just don't want to do it. They're either on vacation or far too tired when they return to work, and after I got their bosses' email and begged him to return my euros, nothing has happened. Perhaps, I was loved so much by that bank, that they didn't want me to go away...
Losing patience, I went over everyone's head and searched for the institution's CEO contact info; after finding it was Mr. Jean-Yves Barnavon, I told him how incompetent and disengaged his “workers” were.

I finally received an email from him promising some action. I'm not getting my hopes too high yet; after all, it's still France!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Breakfast in Park City

This lady duck is a widow. Her husband suffered a fatal crash when he turned around to check for her, while in-flight, and hit a utility pole.

She had just laid one half-dozen eggs. Now, she's alone, raisin her ducklings. She's lost one baby a few weeks ago when we had all that rain. Today, she's taking her five remaining chicks for breakfast on this beautiful June morning.

The family is lucky to live in Park City. The food is plentiful, the beavers built that spacious pond over the past six years and she sees a lot of pedestrians like us, stopping to snap pictures or shoot videos of her and her flock...

Enjoy your day!

Friday, June 12, 2015

What are you saying?

When you get to be my age, you get all sorts of offers and freebees. This is in large part because you're expected to be falling apart soon and that doctors as well as undertakers have constantly an eye on you.

They get your name from Medicare and AARP lists and don't want you to miss a beat without grabbing a few bucks from you in the process.

Following the funeral home's solicitation from a few weeks ago, I just received an invitation to have my hearing tested and was lured by a $50 restaurant certificate to submit to the evaluation.

I accepted the offer, with my focus solely on the free food and not so much on my auditory performance...

 - @~#&^_+%$>,?

Excuse me, I didn't quite get what you just said?

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Rumors, truth and everything in between...

Early this month and on several occasions, coming from different sources, I heard rumors by which Park City Resort would begin charging $25 for parking each time I'd come to ski.

These statement came from realtors, current volunteers not sure about their future status and disgruntled patrons who still can't accept the acquisition of “their” favorite hangout by Vail Resorts. I spent time researching for an official confirmation of that news, but couldn't find anything anywhere.

Yesterday, as the resort was posting a Facebook's “Throwback Thursday”, I asked them point blank and got a negative answer. Will that hold? We'll see, but their response certainly debunked the rumor, at least for the moment...

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The right age for grand-parenting

I couldn't remember my grand-parents, they had all passed away when I was a toddler, but I remember that my Dad was in his 80s when my kids were toddlers and my Mom and by parents-in-law were all in their 70s.

What did it meant? Just that they were already too old to enjoy their grand-children and play their grand-parent roles with them. It was already too late as they no longer had the required patience nor the natural motivation anymore.

At my age, being a grand-parent still works fine, but I need to do it now, without having to wait for an extra decade!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Co-ed mountain biking

It's hard to have perfectly matched skills and strengths when you ride with a buddy, and particularly when this person happens to be your spouse.

So, the inevitable is that you will have to wait, ride slowly and somehow utilize the “down-time” for doing, or thinking about, something constructive. That's precisely what I do when I ride with my wife. My focus changes from going as fast as I can, to becoming technically better and much more relaxed.

I use the relatively slower riding speed to concentrate on executing my hairpin turns to perfection, to relieve my muscle tension and learn to see as far ahead as I can and mentally memorize the immediate path. I'm sure this way to exercise new skills is transferable to many other sports.

I began using it when I instructed and I skied with students, many years ago...

Monday, June 8, 2015

Riding with my little buddy...

This past days, I got to bike with my grandson and we varied the program on two-wheels from road to mountain-biking, all the way to a first test of the Park City Dirt Jump area, that miraculously opened up for us as an early season bonus.

I genuinely enjoyed riding in company of a little buddy filled with stamina, good balance and willingness to try anything.

I can't wait to do it all over again!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Little economic musings...

The new economic reality goes like this. Fewer high-skill jobs that pay handsomely, less medium skill occupations that pay alright and the remaining jobs left are low skill with very low pay.

More folks get great education, more aspire to the less numerous top jobs, which means a crazy competition; super high and specialized skills have become the sesame of the day to excellent earnings, living the crumbs to the rest of the population...

If you're a plumber or an electrician and your job can't be done by an Indian or a Chinese working for a fifth of your wages yet, you're still in luck, but for how long?

I predicted a long time ago that with such a large disparity in global wages and an incredible ease of exchanges, something would have to give, and we, the developed nations, have just begun “giving...”

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Valéry Giscard d'Estaing interview by Charlie Rose

A couple of nights ago, the 89 years old Giscard d'Estaing, former French president from 1974 to 1981 was interviewed by Charlie Rose. With a pretty good command of English the politician shared his world views that were, for the most part, pretty good except for a few points that made my hair and that of Charlie Rose raise at times.

He said that Putin was a good man and that the Russian leader was well justified in reclaiming Crimea for his country's account. He said is wasn't afraid neither of the Chinese (that he says he knows very well), nor the French right-wing party, but thinks that the US-led globalization went too fast and is what caused the world's financial crisis in 2008 (he may be partially right on that last point).

Things that worry him the most are Islamist terrorism and the fact that Muslims will soon overtake Christians in sheer numbers. This said, he doesn't appear to be bothered by our messed up environment and the planet overpopulation. He doesn't like social networks and the fact they can empower ordinary people who aren't qualified to think for themselves. He prefers the old way: People looking up to their leaders for answers.

Given his advanced age, I'll give him a decent grade of 7 out of 10!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Parking to ski in Park City...

Parking used to be a cinch in Park City, as long as you got out of bed early, you could leave your car just feet from the lift and be on your way. According to what I recently heard, you'll still be able to park this way this next season, but it will cost you $25 each time.
Sure, the local Epic pass can be bought for less than $600, but if you ski 30 times, it might tag another $750 to the otherwise affordable season pass. All this is in response to a huge traffic parking problem that began to surface this past season. It also will bring some precious money to Vail coffers that must pay a hefty rent ($25 million a year) plus amortize its acquisition of the rest of the resort and the huge improvements currently underway. Just call this add-on sales!

Of course, this policy is not what most people were expecting from Vail Resorts and some speculate that the bad news is being kept under wrap so as not to upset its regular pass-holder clientele and have them rethink their commitment to Park City and perhaps bail out. So far, the new consolidated Park City / Canyons resort has been hush about that pricey charge.

Without a doubt, this policy would go a long way in easing traffic around the resorts during peak periods, discourage lone drivers to leave their car for the entire day and promote car pooling. I have always thought that making people pay to park at Park City and make the Canyons parking lot for free, or just for a nominal fee, would go a long way to significantly filter traffic into our City.

At any rate, I just hope that our free bus system gets significantly expended as it should, to shoulder the foreseeable extra load, and that a bus stop will created closer to my house, so I don't have to walk half a mile to catch my transit ride!

See my June 11 posting for a major update...

Thursday, June 4, 2015

A measure of personal worth?

How much are we materially worth? That is the big question. One way to answer it is to measure our guaranteed gains over a future period of time, plus whatever assets we have, and perhaps factor in any foreseeable positive and negative changes that might affect all of it along the way.
As a retired individual, things are a lot simpler, with less moving parts and the future somehow less cloudy, generally devoid of good surprises but filled with plenty of bad ones, though.

On top of that our future income, even adjusted for inflation, will tend to dwindle as we age and our nest eggs will go down, unless we have made terrific investments while we had the stamina to do so!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Love Lock on my deck

On Monday, June 1, the city of Paris ordered the removal of some 45 tons of padlocks from Paris’s Pont des Arts. I won't go over the reason for betraying love in this manner and as a form of protest, I've decided to attach one to the railing of my very own deck in Park City.

Since I always was to cheap to buy a lock and abandon it on some Paris bridge, the next best thing for me is to get a brand new one adorning my mountain home balcony. Further, what a better way to begin marking some 40 years of marital love!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Always finish what you start

If the The Basílica de la Sagrada Família, in Barcelona stands as an example, it's for finishing everything one ever begins doing. Antoni Gaudi, its architect, apparently didn't think so and look at the mess (literally and figuratively) he created by not seeing his project through.

Begun in 1882 and hoped to be completed in 2026 (?) the work has been divisive, controversial and highly questionable. Going from A to Z in one lifetime, simply requires vision, determination flexibility and full engagement. Elements people assemble everyday when they fix a meal, start a family or launch a business.

These folks generally have the end in mind and hold on to it firmly until it's done. That lesson, once assimilated, always makes a tremendous difference and pays huge dividends...

Monday, June 1, 2015

Mountain biking, reset!

A pretty painful fall and a rainy month of May have put a serious damper on my early season mountain biking. Yesterday, as I was riding again, I begin with three recurring concerns I get as I straddle my bike: 
  • Will I be able to get over these hills? 
  • Will I fall and get hurt? 
  • Will I get a mechanical problem with my bike? 
On that fourth outing of the season, as not of these fears materialized, I took it as a strong “green light” for riding again and, from now on, chasing these pesky concerns out of my mind!